Atomic Youth


Dec 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Cope takes a shift on the oars, Angara River, Siberia

Tim Cope [24]


Gippsland, Victoria, Australia
In the time it took to grow shoulder-length locks and a beard, Australian Tim Cope transformed himself from unknown university student to world-class adventurer. After training as a wilderness guide in Finland in 1998, Cope and his Aussie bud Chris Hatherly spent 14 months biking from Moscow to Beijing—a 6,200-mile slog. Along the way, they endured three grueling days man-hauling their bikes and gear 12 miles through six-foot snowdrifts in Russia. Six months later, Cope—who credits climber and author Joe Simpson for inspiring his unconventional approach to life—was back in Siberia, rowing a wooden boat with a team of four down the Yenisey River, bound for the Arctic Ocean. "He wants a challenge, but he's not just into it for the feats of endurance," says Colin Angus, 31, the Canadian expedition leader who invited Cope on the Yenisey trip. "He uses the hardship as a way to meet the local people."

"I don't like to suffer," Cope says, "but when people see you putting yourself out there, they respond and let you in." No doubt Cope will make a few new friends starting next summer on his 30-month circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle. This time, he plans to use a variety of conveyances: reindeer, kayaks, and skis. "The cold makes the reality of life as a struggle for survival more obvious," Cope says of the northern climes. "You get the feeling of being in a landscape that's totally undisturbed, like a real explorer." —Brad Wieners

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