Story of Deep Climate : from selection to the three expeditions

Throughout the summer, we’ll be taking a look back at the Deep Climate missions to tell you all about them, from the selection of the climatonauts to the end of the last crossing. Follow our story and read each episode on our Facebook et Instagram pages ! 


January 2018 : in the crossfit gym “R2 Bastille” around thirty people selected to take part in the climate missions meet for the first time. For nearly a year now, most of them have been sending letters and motivational texts, making videos and answering questions from various teams to get from the initial 1,500 applications to around a hundred.

All of them are in good physical and mental health, have no coloured tattoos (because the ferrite contained in the colours poses a problem for MRI scans) and are aged between 25 and 45. The last 100 were interviewed by Christian Clot, the project’s designer-director, and several members of the team to select 40 of them.

At Bastille, they met for the first time, and Christian presented the aims and expectations of the missions, the risks and dangers, the means of progress and the story of his own solo crossings in 2016-2017. He also tells them about the preparations that need to be made, both individually and collectively, to make these missions possible. The departure is scheduled for 2019 or 2020 and there is a huge amount to be done to get what were still called the ‘4X30’ missions in the field.

At the time, no one could imagine that global events would push back the departure date by several years…  


In 2018 and 2019, the future climatonauts take part in several preparation weekends. The aim is not to prepare them for the climates and conditions they will experience in the field, but to confront them to unpredictability and uncomfortable situations that require them to go beyond the limits that we all set ourselves, often arbitrarily.

The first of these weekends takes place in the Vallée de Joux, in the Swiss Jura, and has been designed as a first plunge into uncertainty. A compass-based route to be completed in 24 hours, in small groups. They swim across a small lake, then progress on foot through forests and valleys, without food, and with several unforeseen events along the way.

Nothing that almost anyone in good health couldn’t do, but they needed to go a little further than their everyday lives and habits, where mutual support between teams was essential. In the end, almost everyone reaches the end of the journey, proud to have gone as far as they can. An important first step in preparing for future missions…

📸 : Bruno Mazodier/Human Adaptation Institute

© Photo Bruno MAZODIER-ADAPTATION-22092018-1481
© Photo Bruno MAZODIER-ADAPTATION-22092018-1837


After the Vallée de Joux, other 3- or 4-day weekends enabled the future climatonauts to gain a better understanding of the project and their own limits, and to refine their knowledge in technical fields that many of them discover for the first time.

Pulka skiing in Prémanon with the “Espace des Mondes Polaires”, kindly made available by its former director Stéphane Niveau; kayaking with specialist Yann Lemoine, who welcomes us to his Paimpol stronghold; or the “25 bumps course” in Fontainebleau with loads of several dozen kilos on their backs.

A few withdrawals punctuated this preparation, which gradually reduced the group to the planned number for the expeditions of 10 women and 10 men…

4X30-Adaptation-PyrénéesCEETS-extract. réseaux (11)


Among these periods of preparation, where accepting the unexpected and a form of ‘pain’ remains the basis, four days in the Pyrenees will leave a lasting impression.

Organised by the highly competent teams of the CEETS, created by David Manise, it was a plunge into uncertainty and a lack of food, with complex crossings.

We swim again, but this time in water at only a few degrees, and the absence of food is longer. All that has been learnt so far is put to the test, but the group, which is experiencing the vital need for cooperation, comes through it well.


Preparation is not just about immersive weekends. It’s also based on strengthening the mental capacity for variability, the ability to switch rapidly from one state to another depending on events.

Curiosity about a wide range of subjects, agility and mental projection are just some of the keys. These are times when the climatonauts-to-be can also get to know yourself better.



Immersive weekends, mental training, well, and still… a few sport sessions !

While some people are regular exercisers, others are not used to training at all. The aim isn’t to turn them into elite sportsmen and women, but having a decent physical base means they’ll suffer less during the expeditions.

The aim is to teach them to train independently, and to learn to accept some amount of pain, the kind you might feel when you think you’ve reached the end of the exercise, the end of yourself, and you still have to go further. Surpassing yourself.

We’ve been helped by the teams at R2 Training Bastille, who have adapted CrossFit to everyday actions that climatonauts might use : carrying water bottle packs or lifting loads off the ground. Enough to leave some memories (and a few aches) to our team !


End of december 2019 : the whole team meets for a week at the Campus de la Transition in Forges to get to grip with the various expedition equipment. It’s the first time they get to know the trolleys designed for the desert.

Manufactured “in series” by Sodi from the prototype created for his solo 4X30 expeditions by Christian Clot and his dad, they are capable of carrying a payload of over 200 kilos.

Family and friends visiting the Campus are happy to make the load for an obstacle course with the trolley ! A real teamwork to complete the training of the future climatonauts.

📷 : Martin Saumet et Julie Lenormant / Human Adaptation Institute

To find out more about the campus :



In addition to training with the trolleys, in the Campus de la Transition in Forges, Mélusine Mallender is training a number of team members in drone handling.

Preparing for Deep Climate also means ensuring that all the necessary tasks can be carried out during the expeditions, by people who are not initially specialists. A project of this scale does not just involve travelling over complex and sometimes hostile terrain. It also means carrying out comprehensive studies, ensuring the health and safety of the team and telling the story through photos and videos.

Here is a short video test with all the team and the nice surroudings of the Campus de la Transition !


In the conditions we’re about to experience, it’s important for each climatonaut to know how to react in the event of injury, fainting, or anything else, and to be able to perform first aid. While some people already have a solid grounding in this area, this is far from being the case for most.

First aid weekends are therefore organised by our first doctor, Jérôme Normand (Amazon) and nurse Emilie Kim-Foo. Practical exercises are then regularly carried out during preparation periods.


Of course, the team must be autonomous enough to carry out scientific studies in the field. Apart from Christian Clot, no scientist will be present during the journeys, and it will be up to the climatonauts to carry out all the protocols. These are operations that require rigour, regular monitoring and a good knowledge of the equipment and its handling.

Therefore, a number of climatonauts are being trained as ‘field operators’, specialising either in human and social science protocols, or in cognitive or physiological protocols. Others were trained during the expeditions, so that by the time of the last mission to the Nefoud desert (in Saudi Arabia), 6 of them were carrying out scientific field operations.