Published: January 2009

Polar Saga Part Two

Polar bear over ice.

Chasing Nansen's Ghost

Two adventurers set out across the Arctic in the footsteps of Norway's pioneering polar explorer.

By Peter Miller
Photograph by Børge Ousland

"I think I see land," he said to Børge Ousland, with whom he had spent the past six weeks chasing the memory of two famous explorers across the Arctic. Beginning at the North Pole, the pair had skied 600 miles to this spot off the northern coast of Franz Josef Land, the remote Siberian archipelago where Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen had sought refuge after their own attempt to reach the Pole in 1895.

Like many Norwegian boys, Ousland was raised on bedtime stories about Nansen's exploits. Years later these tales inspired him to make the first unsupported solo ski trek to the Pole, one of 14 visits as a professional adventurer and guide. Now he and Ulrich, a mountaineer and photographer, were following the same harrowing route Nansen and Johansen had taken 112 years before—something no one else had done.

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