Rowing to Latitude Journeys Along the Arctic's Edge

Jill Fredston

North Point Press



Trade Paperback

312 Pages


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Winner of the National Outdoor Book Award for Outdoor Literature

Jill Fredston has traveled more than twenty thousand miles of the Arctic and sub-Arctic. With her oceangoing rowing shell and her husband, Doug Fesler, in a small boat of his own, she has disappeared every summer for years, exploring the rugged shorelines of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Spitsbergen, and Norway. Carrying what they need to be self-sufficient, the two of them have battled mountainous seas and hurricane-force winds, dragged their boats across jumbles of ice, fended off grizzlies and polar bears, been serenaded by humpback whales and scrutinized by puffins, and reveled in moments of calm. Rowing to Latitude is a celebration of these journeys and a passionate testimonial to the extraordinary grace and fragility of wild places, the power of companionship, the harsh but liberating reality of risk, the lure of discovery, and the challenges and joys of living an unconventional life.


Praise for Rowing to Latitude

"Fredston provides a captivating chronicle of her lifelong obsession with rowing and the wild, open spaces it takes her to."—Claire Splan, San Francisco Chronicle

"Vivid, even poetic . . . A celebration of wild northern places, but also an examination of the lessons gleaned along the way."—John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"As with most trips, Rowing to Latitude rewards you when you finally get to where you're going. Fredston makes you see wilderness as a more precious commodity than you thought, and inspires you to stretch your limits physically and mentally."—Lynne McNeil, The San Diego Union-Tribune

"A vivid portrait of wilderness rowing . . . Full of intriguing personal digressions and moments of high drama."—John Freeman, The Wall Street Journal

"An honest and self-aware woman's record of her unusual life and a shrewd analytical look at human existence as a balance of danger and joy."—Judith Niemi, The Women's Review of Books

"[Fredston] sticks to telling good stories about battling, on primitive terms, the weather, the water, the land, the animals and some of the demons that haunt us all."—Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News

"Rowing to Latitude would be just another human-conquers-nature thriller if it wasn't for Jill Fredston's writing . . . Erudite, heartfelt, eloquent, adventurous, witty, tragic, liberating, concerned, poetic, blunt—all this can happen on a single page, and very often does. Her entire book has the quality of the moods of the sea, vividly personalized by her ability to melt the descriptive into the spiritual."—Dana De Zoysa, The Midwest Book Review

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Rowing to Latitude
I wish to speak a word for nature, for absolute freedom and wildness.--Henry David Thoreau, "Walking"PrefaceFOR YEARS my husband, Doug Fesler, and I have led a double life. In the winter, we work together as avalanche specialists. Then, with the lighter days of summer, we disappear (though my mother hates that word) on three-to-five-month-long wilderness rowing and kayaking trips. Somehow, more than twenty thousand miles have slid under our blades, a function of time and repetitive motion rather than undue strength or bravery.Once, far down the Yukon River, which begins in
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  • Jill Fredston

  • Jill Fredston and her husband, Doug Fesler, are avalanche experts and co-directors of the Alaska Mountain Safety Center. When they are not rowing, they live near Anchorage.