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Polar explorers

Adventurers of the world
There is no doubt that Norway has an impressive record of polar explorers, including Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen.
Roald Amundsen and Helmer Hanssen next to a Norwegian flag at the South Pole in 1911
Roald Amundsen at the South Pole.
Photo: Nasjonalbiblioteket / National Library of Norway

For people with an interest in polar expeditions, Amundsen and Nansen need no further introduction. They are far from the only prominent polar explorers from Norway, however. Several modern-day explorers keep the Norwegian adventurers’ legacy alive.

Roald Amundsen: first to reach the South Pole

Roald Amundsen made history and became a national hero in Norway when he beat Captain Robert F. Scott to the South Pole. Accompanied by four men, he arrived on 14 December 1911. As if this wasn’t enough of an achievement, he was also the first man to navigate the Northwest Passage and the first to fly across the Arctic Ocean.

A number of places, ships, and people, like the writer Roald Dahl, have been named after Amundsen.

Fridtjof Nansen: skiing across Greenland

Fridtjof Nansen first made a name for himself for crossing Greenland on skis, and subsequently for trying to reach the North Pole on the ship Fram. Today, however, he is remembered as much more than a polar explorer. Nansen was an accomplished scientist, statesman, and humanitarian. Using his fame for political activism, he sought to put an end to Norway’s union with Sweden in 1905. After World War 1, he worked relentlessly to help improve the plight of refugees, an effort for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.

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Monica Kristensen Solås: reality and fiction

The glaciologist and meteorologist Monica Kristensen Solås has both led and participated in numerous polar expeditions, both in the Arctic and the Antarctic. In two of her expeditions, one of her aims was to retrieve and bring back the expedition tent once used by Roald Amundsen, but several of nature’s obstacles forced her to abandon the ambition, like when a man on her team fell down a crevasse and died. As early as in 1989 she was the first woman for nearly 50 years to receive The Royal Geographical Society in London’s Founder’s Medal for her achievements. In addition, she has published crime novels set to Svalbard, to international acclaim.

Liv Arnesen’s unsupported crossings

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Cecilie Skog and the seven summits

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Explore Norway’s history & traditions

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