560 km, 13 days and 25 kg on his back in July this year Raf Bauer will face one of the most unfriendly landscapes on Earth and he will do it in record time. The aim of his expedition is a lonely traverse of Iceland from its northernmost point, Rifstangi, to the southernmost point, Kotlutangi. All this will be done without getting any food supplies on the way and with no help from outside.
Raf Bauer is a long distance walker. He takes part in ultramarathons (100 km in 24 hours) and he undertakes lonely traverses of wild areas in Northern Europe. He has already crossed solo the whole of Scotland along the Cape Wrath Trail, Abisko and Sarek National Park and many more. His is the laureate of the international DoGooder Award presented every year by YouTube. He also writes a blog where he describes his projects and expeditions: www.iotochodzi.com.
Dave from The Outdoor Type interviewed Raf as he prepared for his adventure. The interview is below.
What adventures do you have planned?
I’m trying to focus on the one I’m doing in July. It’s not the easiest adventure, so it’s very important to put all the attention to it, but obviously I can’t help thinking about the next ones I wish to be doing. My mind is always somewhere north: Norway, Finland, Siberia, Canadian Islands, Greenland. I really like the idea of sport adventures with setting up the new record or building distance, so the next expedition will be very similar to the current one but probably much more difficult. Unless the Iceland speed record attempt wasn’t successful, I’ll have to go back to this beautiful island again.
What led to you doing so many adventures in north parts of Europe?
It’s simple: the weather. I’m not a summer person and I prefer to walk in the rain rather then in the sun. Another reason is the landscape. Scotland, Iceland, Norway are the most beautiful countries in the world. Some of them are also beautifully remote and being in the wilderness is the thing I appreciate the most. Being in the wild just by myself is all about having the time to know my weaknesses and fighting them to the last breath. That’s the best war to have.
What lead to the decision to cross Iceland on foot?
Because it’s beautiful, wild and challenging. I love challenges. This will be the toughest trail so far and the most awarding at the same time. Few years ago long distance walking became a passion to me and I’ve built the whole philosophy behind it I want to share with others. I’ve got this feeling that I can’t do so without pushing myself to the limits and showing what we all are able to do. Iceland is a perfect place to do that.
Why do you embark on your adventures – what motivates you to do it?
It all started for me in a way I didn’t want to. I lost my mum to ovarian cancer in 2011 and I felt like start helping other women with this terrible disease. I started ultra marathons in 100k distance in 24 hours. I’ve set up the campaign and started selling my steps online to raise money and awareness about ovarian cancer. Emotional start pushed me even further later on and I realised that long distance walks are my thing and that it became my passion. I decided to walk through Scotland on Cape Wrath Trail and that’s how it all started. Now it’s more sport passion and setting up new challenges. Walking alone in wilderness is the best thing.
What do you like and dislike about it?
I love planning my adventures, getting to know the environment, learning about the country I’m going to. I like spending hours drawing with my finger on the maps, changing routes, compering them, setting exit points and finding out about possible dangers. It’s all mine and time spent on this is priceless. I like the exciting moment of starting, moments of weakness in the middle and absolutely amazing feeling at the finish line.
I don’t like the financial aspect of traveling, but I’m trying to find sponsors every time I plan an adventure.
At The Outdoor Type we have delved into our memories to find our earliest memory of being in the outdoors. What is your earliest outdoor memory?
I remember climbing on a small mountain in Poland when I was 10. It was really hard at the time and I didn’t find this fun. I was waiting 20 years to develop the passion and find out what I want to do in my life. When I made my first steps in wilderness of Scotland’s Highlands I was like “this is it, this is me”.