Following The Line
In February 2017, Charlie set out with Alaskan mountaineer Callie Morgigno on an eight-month, 8,000km triathlon spanning the length of the perceived border between Europe and Asia, from the midwinter snowfields of the Russian arctic to the Bosporus in Istanbul.
‘Following the Line’ was a gruelling endurance feat. However, much more than that, it was an exploration into what it means to be 'Asian' or 'European', what divides or unites the peoples on either side of 'the line', and the diversity of landscape, environment, religion and culture along the border that has traditionally demarcated East and West.
For more than two millennia, geographers and theologians have drawn arbitrary lines to divide ‘enlightened’ Europe from ‘barbarous’ Asia and to differentiate between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ In reality, however, the divide between Europe and Asia is not continental in the tectonic sense, as with other continents, but simply conceptual; a European academic construct. This begs the question: is there as much of a divide as we think?
Many school children abroad are now taught that the world has six, not seven, continents and that one of them, the largest, is Eurasia. However, British consensus still holds that the two continents are separated along a line formed by two mountain ranges, two seas, and a river.
The expedition involved 3 months of ski trekking through the Ural mountains in Russian Arctic winter. Charlie and Callie went a month at a time without resupply or encountering traces of civilisation. The second leg was a 1,500-mile kayak the length of the Ural river which flows into the Caspian sea. To complete the route, they cycled from Kazakhstan to Istanbul.