Millionaire's Attempt to Cross the Bering Strait

ByABC News
October 30, 2002, 2:11 PM

Oct. 31 -- There aren't many challenges left for a wealthy would-be adventurer. Millionaires have flown around the world in a balloon, climbed the seven highest mountains, and even been in space.

So British property developer Steve Brooks decided to drive around the world including the treacherous "ice bridge" that forms across the Bering Strait each winter, joining North America to Russia.

For just a few weeks each year, the 56-mile channel fills with enough ice to make a passage feasible. But the ever-shifting floes, and the dangers of being crushed between giant icebergs or slipping into the freezing waters, have so far defeated every attempt to make the crossing.

Brooks was not deterred, and says that taking risks is part of his makeup. "To risk nothing is to risk a lot more," he told Primetime. "That is a dangerous game. To cocoon yourself up and not to cross the road that is what death is. That's how you die."

English Farm Boy Comes to America

Brooks says he was restless from an early age. "I grew up on a farm in Staffordshire in middle England ... I was always a bit confused about society. I couldn't quite understand it ... It seemed to be such a regimented, closed, straight rat run."

So as a teenager, he decided to undertake an experiment: "If you had nothing in life, and I mean absoloutely nothing no family, no support, no money can you survive?" He came to America and hitched across the country, surviving on discarded McDonalds hamburgers. "If you get in the dumpster, you can usually get some fresh burgers at about 11 o'clock," he learned.

Brooks survived, and with the help of odd jobs he picked up along the way, went on to visit nearly 75 countries. He went diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, kayaking down the Zambezi River in Africa and rode a camel through India.

Money Can Set You Free

But he also learned that to keep living a life adventure you need money. "I don't think money is the answer to life, but it certainly frees you up," he says. "On this planet, it goes a long way to creating the ability to be free."