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Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic's Edge

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  611 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
Two by sea: A couple rows the wild coasts of the far north
Jill Fredston has traveled more than twenty thousand miles of the Arctic and sub-Arctic-backwards. With her ocean-going 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 No
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published October 3rd 2001 by North Point Press (first published 2001)
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Books Ring Mah Bell
Mar 22, 2011 Books Ring Mah Bell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
I purchased this book during a "books about rowing" binge. The cover shows a woman in her scull, floating peacefully next to an amazingly beautiful iceberg. Envy engulfed me; I want to see that! I want to row in the wilderness! Two of my favorite things in one: nature and rowing, what could be better?

It became evident early on in the book that my idea of nature and her idea of nature are dramatically different. Very, very different. Maybe it's the fact that the long, cold winter we've had here h
Tales from a lifetime of rowing -- rather different kind of book than the 'I did a cool thing once' type. In the latter, the hypothetical author would spend the whole book writing about one summer's trip: preparation, how far they travelled each day, detailed descriptions of scenery... The beauty of the sort of book that this is is that the author can pick the best-of moments, can take a dozen different battles with ice and focus only on the one or two that are most interesting.

(Don't get me wro
Gypsy Lady
Aug 26, 2011 Gypsy Lady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am adding this book to my library. Many quotable quotes. Here are a few samples:

Page 285
Greenland is beautiful with dramatic mountains and a landscape of power, but it is not immune to the cancer that is all around us sickening the world at large.

Page 286
It is easy to take open water for granted and forget how vulnerable we really are.

Page 286
If I don't exhaust my energy trying to control what I cannot I am left with more time to live as I choose.
Pierced Librarian
Stories like this remind me that if our world ended as we know it- I'm screwed. I have no survival skills. My only hope is if someone see's me and says, "Oh. You have wide hips- come join our clan."

Amazing tale of an amazing couple.

p. 21 Our boats don't allow much insulation from the environment; they force us to be absorbed by it.

p. 28
How do we master ourselves?

p. 134
(he is) remarkable skilled at separating reality from his ego.

p. 139
Travel takes us outside ourselves and deeper within.

and my su
Cynthia Davidson
Feb 16, 2014 Cynthia Davidson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pi-book-club
I chose this for our island book club because we have sailors, kayakers & travelers in it. The author goes to Alaska (where she lives) to British Columbia, Greenland, Labrador, Norway, the Yukon River & many parts of the Bering Sea. She made me relieved to be an armchair traveler, when it comes to those parts of the globe!
An avalanche expert, with another book, 'Snowstruck' Jill is a serious outdoors woman & one heck of an athlete. I was tired just reading of how many miles she rowe
Marilyn Cook
Oct 03, 2012 Marilyn Cook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best memoirs I have read. Well written, entertaining. A great read if you like the outdoors.
Dec 09, 2012 Booknblues rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, arctic, travel
Rowing to Latitude
By Jill Fredston
4 stars

I’m not a rower and truly, I’m not much of a water person. I can barely doggy paddle, but I picked up Jill Fredston’s Rowing to Latitude because my sense of adventure is easily satisfied by the turn of pages. I hoped for a book which would give me a peak at the Arctic and its animals without having to suffer its chill and biting winds. I was satisfied on that count as this description of her journey from Seattle to Skagway Alaska describes:

The sun r
Cecelia Hightower
Written by Jill Fredston in 2001. Jill and her husband are avalanche experts and co-directors of the Alaska Mountain Safety Center. They live outside Anchorage. According to Jill, she and her husband are such two different types of people that they would never be expected to get together. To me the book is written in the format that made me feel like I was sitting with he author, her husband and some friends and she was sharing stories with us.

Jill and her husband would take the summer months of
Oct 27, 2011 Mila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is phenomenal. Truly, a wondrous journey through space, time, love, life, and philosophy. Jill Fredston is not only a stupendous storyteller but also a deeply thoughtful woman, and her perspective on life comes across beautifully in her prose. This is a book to read with a pen - she shares some universal truths in words well-chosen and appropriate for a wide audience. Somehow, she manages to present her travels (and life) from both an intellectual and personal vantage point and deftly ...more
May 07, 2013 Astin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked 3 years AFTER leaving Anchorage to read this book - a memoir written by an Anchorage author. It describes rowing trips with her husband from Seattle to Nome, the Mackenzie River and along the Arctic coast of Alaska, Labrador, Greenland, Norway, Svalbard, and more. I relate to Jill's affinity for rowing, where the rhythm of the catch-pull-glide can make the oars and heart alike sing. I enjoyed Jill's writing style, which was first intended as a trip-log for herself and friends, full of i ...more
Mar 04, 2014 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book a few years ago. It was an unexpected pleasure. It was like being an adventurer while sitting in your chair reading. The writing style is relaxed and intimate and allows the reader to feel almost as if you are there. It felt as if I got to experience a part of the world that I knew I was unlikely to ever see with my own eyes, but through the wonderful descriptions, I actually can still remember the "pictures" that the words created in my imagination. Highly recommend!
Nov 25, 2008 Tammy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is best appreciated by those who might have a similar attraction to wild country as does the author, Jill Fredston.

Often lyrical, always worshipful of the Arctic's Edge, Fredston's account of rowing feats along the coasts of Alaska, Greenland, Norway, and Labrador will most resonate with those who've often dipped oars or paddles into the water themselves. Just when descriptions of the thousands of miles of shoreline threaten to slip into the mundane, Fredston introduces polar b
Bobo Johnson
Sep 05, 2007 Bobo Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you considered rowing to be exclusively the domain of prep schools, this travelogue/autobiography will swiftly disabuse you of that notion. Jill Fredston says she didn't originally intend "Rowing to Latitude" to be a book, and in a lot of ways, it feels like a patchwork of emails from a distant friend doing something you would give anything to join her for.

Sprinkled throughout are moments of genius, and the language rarely if ever falls into the humdrum voice of most travel accounts. The boo
Mar 29, 2016 Hank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember loving this book, strong 4 star. The scenery that played out in my head was spectacular and the descriptions of logistics and physical hardship it took to accomplish these journeys were eye-opening. Great arm chair adventure read. I have always been fascinated with arctic travel, hopefully someday I can treat myself to something like this.
Sarah Sammis
Aug 20, 2007 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: released
Some of the best books I've ever read have just fallen into my lap. Rowing to Latitude is one of those books.

Rowing to Latitude chronicles a number of kayaking trips that Jill Fredston took with her husband, Doug. When they aren't kayaking, Jill and Doug work as avalanche experts in Alaska. Most of the the trips described are along the Alaska coast or along rivers that end in the Arctic Circle. The final chapters of the book cover their trips around Greenland.

I enjoyed the Alaska and Canada tri
Oct 04, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend gave me this book to read knowing I love to paddle and spent a lot of time doing so in SE Alaska. Well each singular trip documented in this book was a lot more than I could ever fathom doing and envied the months and months she could take away from real life to do it! The author did an amazing amount of rowing (not paddling) in artic waters and it's really inspiring. But after I got over the sheer strength, will, and determination it took the author and her husband to do the physical f ...more
Apr 16, 2015 Fred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this couples obsession with traveling by rowing shell and kayak and in the northern reaches in the summer and working as avalanche experts in Alaska makes for interesting reading.
Jan 27, 2015 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A quality book. The best I read this year. It gave me a feeling of such deep fulfillment that I lack the words to describe it. The quality of the writing made the reading flow. The accuracy of the vocabulary was relaxing (I am not a native English speaker). The felt descriptions will talk to anyone who has spent time outdoor. Their adventures and their reactions regarding bear encounters are awe inspiring but never boastfull. Not to mention the thoughts triggered by the book that make the experi ...more
Terry Tracz
Aug 12, 2014 Terry Tracz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How nice to experience the adventure of kayaking in Alaska and the Arctic from the comfort of my own home. Enjoyed this read!
Tori Martinez
Apr 09, 2014 Tori Martinez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book... I was in the right frame of mind when I read it. Felt like I was along for the journey!
Sep 11, 2015 Marsha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, travel, outdoors
These people are crazy, but their trips amazing. I enjoyed reading about them.
quit didn't like
Pamela Beason
Jan 09, 2012 Pamela Beason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes adventure
Shelves: nonfiction
An adventurous friend of mine recommended this book to me. As a kayaker, I still don't understand the appeal of moving backward, but I can appreciate that it's a more powerful stroke that can cover more ground. And cover ground the author and her husband did, rowing and paddling all along the arctic's edge in Greenland, U.S., Canada, and Norway. I learned a lot, especially about the danger of breaching whales and the difficulties of spotting polar bears from afar. Yikes!
Nov 28, 2008 Wayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An outdoor travel adventure book about this couple that spends their summers exploring different Northern Hemisphere coasts by rowboat. I enjoyed this book, her approach to the outdoors and even her insights along the way. My favorite place to visit would be Labrador, an area along Eastern Canada. This old Newfoundland saying sums up this area, "God made Labrador in six days. And on the seventh, he threw rocks at it".
May 06, 2007 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone!
I could not put this one down. I loved reading about the places in the Arctic where Jill Fredston and her husband rowed that had been completely untouched by any human being. I learned about places I had never heard of: Svaldbard?!
Jill Fredston is a brilliant writer as well. You can read it in small segments, as she has broken up each amazing trip as a seperate chapter.
Jul 19, 2010 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adventurers, Outdoor enthusiasts, Kayakers, Rowers
Recommended to Amber by: Erin
I really enjoyed her writing style, her reasons for boating, and her outlook on life and adventure. I do feel that some degree of teachable experience is necessary before you could safely have the adventures this author and her husband do. I loved hearing about what the coastline is like in all the different places they explored and how they made it through tough spots.
Aug 19, 2013 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I enjoyed this book. I liked her descriptions of the countryside that she and her husband traveled through. I was disappointed to hear that the Norwegian coast wasn't as nice as I thought it would be. I couldn't imagine rowing all of those miles while also battling the weather and the ocean. Personally, I think they are crazy but it made for pretty good reading.
Jul 08, 2008 Deanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring ! and a great summer read. We met Jill and her husband in Belize in January - and had a lovely conversation about college rowing and travel before I learned of her book. Full of adventure - but very grounded and thoughtful. Certainly not the extreme-sport, "look at me, I'm daring" genre - but very personal and reflective.
Dec 30, 2008 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book but it may be because I am an ocean kayaker. Not everyone may love the descriptions of rowing in the Artic. But then again, who wouldn't love descriptions of breaching whales, killer surf, landscapes void of people and bears trying to get into the author's tent. Beautiful writing and chuck full of wisdom.
Janis Taylor
Dec 14, 2014 Janis Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adventurous, sharp, beautiful, wild, poetic, smart. Best book I read this year.
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