Every story has a beginning, and of course, so does my own Arctic adventure. Talking about how I got into this seems like a fitting first post on our blog. Of course, everyone getting into any kind of adventuring has different motivations and backgrounds. Lauren’s story is already entirely different from mine, and your own story will be different too. So reading about my motives will probably be one of the least helpful posts to appear here. What’s important for this blog is that eight months ago I was just an average guy, nowhere near thoughts of Arctic expeditions or greater adventuring in general. So what I want to cover on this website is my journey from zero to seasoned Arctic explorer. Hopefully, this will prove helpful and inspirational to you if you find yourself in the position of planning an adventure yourself, but doubting you can do it or not knowing where to start.
The first time I heard about anything regarding Arctic exploration was on a Norway cruise I did with my wife a couple of years ago. Of course, I roughly knew about Amundsen and Scott, but never really bothered to get into it in detail. On this cruise, I learned about Fridtjof Nansen and the first Fram expedition. For me as a huge history nerd in general, that was enough to make me curious to research more about this topic, and so I did. I believe in the next year every one of my friends heard about the story of Nansen’s Greenland crossing and the daring Fram expedition at some point. I was starstruck by the spirit he displayed, by his ability to inspire others, and by the innovative solutions to problems that were thought to be unsolvable at the time. I couldn’t help but admire his unshakeable determination to reach his goals, and simultaneously his ability to keep a level head and realise what still lay out of his reach. The thought of being all alone in the great white, braving the harshest conditions known on our planet, is weirdly romantic in an old-school adventuring sense. It’s a throwback to the golden age of exploration when the maps still had a lot of blank areas, and brave pioneers were racing to be the first to fill them.
About a year after our cruise I visited Oslo on business. My day job is for a company belonging to a large Norwegian corporation, and I was booked for a project leadership course at our headquarters. On that occasion, I visited the Fram museum, where my fascination for Polar exploration really grew into the desire to experience this on my own. I wanted to step into the footsteps of Nansen, Amundsen, Shackleton, and well, probably not so much Scott. I wondered what it would take to get close to what they did today.
By pure coincidence, it turned out that the person teaching my course on that weekend was Thorleif Thorleifsson. He’s a sailor and Arctic explorer himself and built his lessons around his successful circumnavigation of the Arctic in 2010. The way he and Børge Ousland approached this project does not only provide valuable insights for business projects, but more importantly, it gave me a glimpse into the world of modern Arctic exploration and showed me that even today there are things left to explore and feats not yet accomplished.
Needless to say, this was one of the most exciting courses I have ever done for work so far. The three days in Thorleif’s company helped convince me that my dreams of experiencing the Arctic did not have to stay just dreams. By the time I was sitting at the airport waiting for my flight back to Vienna, a signed copy of Thorleif’s book in hand, I had already made the decision to get into an Arctic expedition. This one crazy chance encounter in Oslo pushed me down the path I am on right now. Of course, I still had no clue how to actually tackle everything required to turn my plan into reality, and what exactly I had gotten myself into. But I had made a decision and would stick by it, and that is arguably the most important step when planning an adventure.
Keen hiker and ÖAV trekking and hiking guide, in love with Nansen. Owner of the most walk-averse rescue dog ever. Ice cream lover, kit junkie, runner and mad software genius.