Much is often, quite rightly, made of the pioneering polar explorers who made the first forays into the Arctic and Antarctic from the 19th Century until the 1920s. The tales of Mawson, Scott, Amundsen, Nansen and Peary grip the imagination with their bravery and negligible chances of rescue.
Although the North and South Poles have been reached overland all those decades ago, there is still a significant but small group of polar travellers who continue to push back boundaries in the polar regions. They are in most cases totally unknown outside of their own countries and are often forgotten in deference to those with powerful publicity teams.
Every week, I hope to publish a new blog article to illustrate the remarkable expeditions of another modern polar great.
ROLF BAE - Norway (January 9, 1975 – August 1, 2008)
The trend of Norwegians continues into Week Two. Rolf Bae was a mountaineer and polar traveller of international note before being killed on K2 in the summer of 2008.
He was married to fellow Norwegian and polar expert Cecilie Skog. Bae crossed the Antarctic in its entirety with Eirik Sønneland in 2000/1 in an epic 105 day 3800km expedition without resupply. The expedition began at the Norwegian Troll Base in Droning Maud Land and reached the South Pole after two months of travel. From here they continued on to reach the Scott Base on the Ross Sea coast. This expedition, despite its enormity and significance, has been routinely under-reported since. This wind-supported polar distance record was only broken in 2006 by Rune Gjeldnes.
On April 24th 2006 he, Skog and Per Borch reached the North Pole unsupported from the Canadian side. This 775km expedition was completed in a record 49 days.
Rolf Bae was killed in an avalanche on K2 in Pakistan, an accident which claimed the lives of eleven climbers in total.