I shared dinner with the first man to walk to the South Pole and the North Pole last week! Robert Swan is a remarkable man in many ways. I want to share a bit about him, his 50 year project and what this meeting meant to me. I can’t believe my luck.
Robert Swan walked to the South Pole in 1986. At 33, he walked to the North Pole (1989). He’s earned a spot in history alongside the heroic explorers of old, becoming the first man to walk to both poles. Incredible. He doesn’t do things by halves, and he’s taken on some Herculean tasks since.
Robert Swan was in Wellington last week and I was invited to a small dinner. Robert gave a pre-dinner slideshow that set the scene for an inspiring evening, and touched many chords for all of us. For me, having been to both polar regions, having some idea of how epic his walks were, and being a student of polar heroic history, it was a big treat sharing his tales, elbow to elbow, at the dinner table.
Robert was inspired by Antarctica and the heroic explorers when he was 11. He dodged Oxford Uni (much to his father’s chagrin) and in his twenties decided to raise $5,000,000 for an expedition, bought a ship, convinced 25 volunteers to give up 3 years, and set sail to Antarctica, to walk to The Pole. It took him 5 years to get 1000 sponsors and enough money, before setting sail in 1984 - meeting Capt. Scott’s last surviving expedition member Bill Burton in Lyttelton. He tracked down original sponsors of Capt Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910-1913 expedition, e.g. Shell Oil supplied petrol to Captain Scott and again supported Robert’s attempt. It’s worth mentioning that Robert had never even been camping at this stage!
The short story is that he walked to the South Pole in 70 days without radios but, upon arrival, discovered that… > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >