Arctic Exploration: Stories to Inspire

Let’s look at Arctic Exploration.

To wrap up our little series on the Arctic, I wanted to do something special. Part of the reason we love these Arctic destinations so much at BraveWomenTravel.com is that they are, almost by nature, an adventure. While the trips we offer are nothing like the crazy dangerous stunts pulled by those mentioned below, the draw to these places seems to be the same for all who travel there.

These are a few of the most famous stories of Arctic Exploration. Not all – I mean, I’d be here all week if I tried to do that. Instead, I have chosen a few explorers who I think embody some part of our shared traveling spirit.

Nansen: Travelers Save the World

Fridtjof Nansen (whom I will hereafter refer to as Nansen because yikes! spelling) is well worth a look by any potential traveler. This guy was a lawyer and winter athlete, specifically an amazing skiier, who went exploring to both poles and a lot of other places besides. Even when he was young, he would go on long solo trips in harsh terrain, building his stamina and feeding his determination and adventurous spirit. More than this, however, Nansen is known as an activist and philanthropist. He worked to help the millions of refugees left in desperate situations after WW1. The passport given to those who no longer had a country was even called the “Nansen Passport”.

Most of the friends I have made in female travel groups have had some kind of interest in philanthropy. And if they didn’t have one when they started traveling, they usually go home with one. There is a reason for this, I think. Traveling opens your eyes to the world as a whole, and allows you to see beyond yourself. Exploration challenges you and helps you to grow in strength and courage. Traveling can give you the boost you need to get out and help the people you want to help, and fight the fights you need to.

Peary: Learn From the Best

Now, I don’t mean that Robert Peary was the best, although he was the first to officially reach the North Pole. (There was some controversy over this, but the decision ruled in his favor.) The point is that Peary knew to learn from the best. When he decided to try and reach the North Pole, Peary spent his preparation time learning from the people who actually knew how to survive in the conditions he would be facing: Inuits. He learned about how to use dog sleds, how to use fur for effective warmth, and even how to use igloos.

Now, Peary’s relationship with the Inuits was not a perfect one. In fact, he was pretty freaking awful to them, especially after he was finished with his exploration. But we can do better. Part of the travel tours for women that we run will always involve discovering and exploring the cultures in the places you visit. I’m not just talking interesting cuisines and fashions (although this is a nice plus). I’m talking about real world application of lessons that we may never otherwise have learned. Who knows – maybe one day you’ll need that information as badly as Peary did. And unlike him, we can treat the people we learn from with the respect they deserve.

Admunsen: Organization Gets the Edge

Roald Admunsen makes our list for his amazing exploration of the Northwest Passage and crossing of the North Pole. This guy had a lot of firsts. He was the first to officially make it all the way through the Northwest Passage, and he was the first to fly over the North Pole. (He had wanted to be the first one there altogether, but he was beaten to the punch.) After this, however, he became part of one of the most famous events of Arctic and Antarctic exploration: the race for the South Pole. He was in competition with Robert Falcon Scott, who was trying to get to the South Pole before he did.

The comparison between the two expeditions is the other reason Admunsen is someone I can take a lesson from. The guy was organized. There were a number of factors that went into his getting to the pole before Scott, but a big part was the way he planned things. He used sled dogs instead of ponies and motors like Scott did, allowing him to fare better in the cold. He also did a better job of spacing out his food depots for the journey back, allowing his team to make it home safe after the reached the pole. Scott did not manage as well, and his team died tragically before they got back to safety.

Admunsen’s planning went so well that he even left a note at the pole for Scott, telling him to help himself to the items Admunsen had left behind. That’s the kind of packing and planning I want to achieve.

The Heroic Age

Most of the famous Arctic exploration stories come from the years between 1897 and 1922. This was known as the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration. Basically, it seems like people were getting excited about finding new territories and they actually had the technology to get them there. And for all we know, someone in the future might label the time we are in now as some Golden Age of Travel.

You may (ahem) have noticed that the famous explorers on this list (and many others) are guys. However. The spirit of adventure, if I can get a little cheesy, is something that we all share. And now, we ladies have the opportunity to take part (it’s about ruddy time).

Of course, as far as we have come, things are often different for single female travelers. There will often be more to worry about. But hey – that’s why we’re here. If you’re going to go adventuring, you’ll need your expedition team with you.

 

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Kate Downes

Kate is a freelance writer and travel blogger. Some people say it's a tough gig, but she has previously taught high school, worked retail, and been a bartender in London, and would take five thousand words on a deadline any day. You can find more of her work at readlongshorts.com and signedkateelizabeth.com.

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