I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I ever come across a more majestic music venue than Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. Every year I tell myself to be sure and see at least one concert there. It doesn’t always happen. Summers are short, and dates fill up fast with other obligations. But my two brothers and I made it happen this past Saturday for Reggae on the Rocks, the venerable, all-day festival that spits you out feeling like you ran 50 miles, instead of just watched reggae all afternoon and evening. Sunday morning was no different from any of the prior years I attended, nor was the confirmation that it had been worth it.
Where are we headed when the most climbed mountain on the planet has free WiFi at the summit? By M. Michael Brady
Mount Fuji, 60 miles southwest of Tokyo, is the world’s most-climbed mountain. It now is the world’s most wired by wireless one, with Wi-Fi coverage at eight hotspots, including the summit.
Fujisan (the transliteration of its name in Japanese) has a summit elevation of 12,388 feet, the highest in Japan. It’s a stratovolcano, which means that it’s built up of alternate layers of lava and ash. It erupted last in 1707-1708 and now is dormant and snow-capped for eight months or more a year. Fujisan is not on public land, but is privately owned by the Sengentaisha Shinto Shrine, which acquired the mountain in 1609 and owns its summit in perpetuity. Despite that title, the Shinto priests regard Fujisan as being a world treasure, not belonging to any one person or group.
The mountain and its beautiful surroundings are well-known symbols of Japan. The UNESCO World Heritage List recognizes 25 sites of cultural interest within the locality, including the mountain itself, shrines, lodging houses, lakes, hot springs, caves and wooded areas.
The first ascent of the summit was made in 663 by an anonymous monk. The first ascent by a foreigner was made in 1868 by Ratherford Alcock (1809-1897), the first British diplomat to live in Japan. Today, the annual two-month climbing season is in summer when the peak is snow-free. It attracts record numbers of hikers, some 285,000 in the summer of 2014, according to official statistics. In climbing terms, it’s a walk-up, on the four trails to the summit, named for their lowest elevation trailheads: Yoshida, Subshiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya. Along the trails there are huts that provide food services and overnight lodgings, which are popular with hikers who want to view sunrise from the summit.
The mountain is divided into ten stations, of which the first is at its foot and the tenth at its summit. There are paved roads to the four 5th stations, from which most people start their hikes to the summit. Compared to ascents of mountains elsewhere, those of Mount Fuji are well served by public transport. For instance, the Fujinomiya 5th station is closest to the summit and is easily accessible from the railway stations of the Tokaido Shinkansen high-speed rail line.
Mount Fuji was first made known in the USA by University of Chicago professor and populist educator Frederick Starr (1858-1903), who gave several lectures on his ascents of its summit at assemblies of the Chautauqua (adult educational movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries).
Today, NTTdomco, a telecommunications company, has teamed up with the Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures (districts) in which the mountain is located, to offer Wi-Fi service, as part of an incentive to attract more foreign visitors, that in turn is part of Japan’s expansion of its Wi-Fi coverage ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. During the summer climbing season, users may access the Wi-Fi by entering a user ID and password provided in fliers in English, Chinese, and Korean that are distributed at trailheads. The service is available for 72 hours from the time a user first logs in.
What happens when your body starts to break down? When trail running is no longer an option? It’s time to simply accept the downhill run. By Alan Stark
For Oliver Sachs
Raging against the dying of the light, while somewhat gratifying, is nonetheless pounding sand and about as useful. In my case, the “dying light” is trail running, a life sport I can’t do anymore. The low-level knee pain afterward is not worth it. Losing sleep because of knee ache makes me grumpy, and too much ibuprofen has the potential to turn my liver into goo.
The bike route from Breckenridge to Frisco starts in town at the gondola and winds along the Blue River. Over to the left heavy gray clouds pour over the peaks and down to the ski area. The sky is lighter toward Frisco. The bet I am making with myself is that I can outrun the storm. This is not the first time I have made this bet. I seem to not learn much from previous experience, as I often let my enthusiasm override observable facts.
Most of this route to Frisco is slightly downhill giving me the illusion that I might be the strongest person on a road bike today, when in fact, the physics associated with being twenty pounds overweight makes the carbon fiber bike go faster. I am one speed on a bike far superior to my skills…tubby speed.
The short-term answer is to see an orthopedic surgeon at the end of the month. He’s the same guy who stitched my quad to my patella. The operation was slick. He drilled holes laterally through the patella, laced sutures through the holes, and then stitched the sutures into the tendon and quad muscles. Then he tightened the sutures and pulled the disengaged quad ligament up against the proximal side of the patella that had been roughed up.
Not so slick was the way I busted the quad running downhill on mud and ice, slipped with the knee under me, and hyper-flexed it, causing a complete separation of the quad tendon from the bone. Ouch! I love it when I look at my medical record and see the phrase “nontraumatic tear of left quadriceps tendon.” I don’t know who wrote that. It may have been the surgeon who obviously has a well-formed sense of humor.
I’m moving past the Flight for Life hanger at the hospital and along the bike trail south of Frisco. It’s raining now and I turn into town for some shelter. One of their choppers went down just before the Fourth of July. I couldn’t stop thinking of the crew as I watched the parade in Breckenridge. Med-evac crews risk everything to save a life. We must always keep moving on but sometimes it is moving on with sadness.
The streets of Frisco are filled with flatlanders, many of whom make me, with my modest pot-belly, look skinny in comparison. The rain slow downs, I pull off a rain jacket and decide I can get to Copper Mountain and if the weather keeps going south, take a shot at Vail Pass for a forty-fvie mile out-and-back ride.
The route from Frisco goes slightly uphill along Ten Mile Creek and is filled with bikes. I like the folks on rental bikes who are indomitably going uphill grimacing at the triple whammy of uphill, rain, and altitude but pushing on with an occasional shout of encouragement to one another. I live hree part-time. Altitude, rain, and steeps are all part of the game. I try to be gracious and almost always say something encouraging as I pass, “looking strong or looking good.” Inane words, but I think they appreciate the thought.
This failure of a body part is most likely due to the earlier injury, but I know the knee problem is indicative of things to come as I get older. I am slowing down. My parts are clearly out of warranty and there are a number of failures looming. This isn’t ominous to me for a number of reasons: I have a good marriage and have finished an interesting career. I have been able to live a number of years doing exactly what I wanted to do in the backcountry and never really had any long-term injuries or parts failures. Add to this a genuine thankfulness to be alive given the early death of some friends and a number of backcountry incidents that could have gone badly.
Sure, just like you, I’ve had some minor injuries. There was a broken wrist when I came unglued from a tree as a kid, a cracked radius and ulna while skiing patches of snow between the sheet ice in Vermont, and a mashed scapula from doing airtime over the handle bar of a commuter bike in the Port of Seattle complex. The dumbest and long-term painful injury came when I was trail running with my dog with his leash looped around my chest. Mac ran around one side of a tree and I ran around the other. I crashed to the ground and broke two ribs. My PCP taped me up and said, “don’t laugh for eight weeks,” Thanks Doc, not helpful.
The sky is grey and angry looking. I’ve beat the storm this far, what the hell, I’ll keep going. The route up Vail Pass from the south is surprisingly easy gaining less than 1,000 feet over four miles. There are several slight pitches that get me out of the saddle and sucking wind but it is mostly a moderate uphill crank. The danger is the tourists who ride to the top of Vail Pass in a van. Then they ride their rental bikes the twelve miles down to Frisco, usually in control. They are not exactly experienced bike handlers. I smile a good deal, but I watch them carefully as they cruise downhill.
The downhill run is always amazing. I’m slower going uphill than I used to be but getting better at managing the speed on the downhill, daring myself to not use the brakes and let the bike just freewheel. I water up in Frisco, munch on some energy food, and head home on the slightly uphill ride back to Breckenridge.
I’m a Boomer and have lost friends to some bad luck, really asinine wars, sullied drugs, excessive alcohol, and now some god-awful diseases. In the middle of the night I can see their young faces, and remember good times and laughter and exactly where I was when I heard they were gone. There is no good reason that some of them are dead and I am still here.
Did she forget to check the belay point? Did he know it was his last patrol? Would a reasonable person put something down their throat without knowing its provenance? There was always alcohol, there will always be alcohol, often too much alcohol. I never listened when I was taught that the immune system can also kill slowly and exceedingly painfully.
When I was serious about trail running I did the Pikes Peak half-marathon. I started up the Manitou Incline with a guy who said he was seventy. I was in my mid-thirties. I never saw him again until I reached the top. He told me I’d get better with age. My goal was to be able to run Pikes Peak when I was seventy. That doesn’t look like it will happen. I’ll be happy to do Vail Pass on my bike. When the riding, and skiing end the way trail running apparently has ended there is ongoing reading, writing, and gardening. I plan to learn fly-fishing, maybe try golf, and get better at backgammon. I hope to end up sitting in the mountain sun enjoying the passage of time with an old friend or dog or both, for as long as life goes on, until I stop breathing.
Alan Stark is recovering from a career in book publishing and a now a volunteer backcountry ski patroller in the Roosevelt National Forest. He lives in Breckenridge and Boulder.
Burro racing might be the greatest sport the world has never heard of. I covered some races back when I worked for a newspaper (the sport’s epicenter is in Colorado), and always found the scene to be hilarious. Last month, I got involved firsthand in Idaho Springs, during the annual Tommyknocker Mining Days festival. A power-hungry donkey named Marsha and I ran five miles through the hills above Clear Creek, fighting for control the whole time, before finishing back in town and rewarding ourselves with carrots (her) and beer (me). There is nothing else like it. In this photo, taken shortly before the start, a handful of our foes readied themselves for the race to come.
My friend Dennis dropped by this afternoon to help me clean up a mess. I had gotten myself into some more tree trouble. These dying hemlocks just never fall the right way when I cut them down, especially when they’re near a power line or the house. I wish they didn’t do that. I wish they weren’t all dying.
This particular hemlock, when I managed to get it to fall, got all hung up in some nearby ash trees, which are also dying. There was nothing I could do about it. The hemlock just stood there like a shady Antaeus. Dennis said he’d come over and take care of it. When he pulled up in his truck, the collie barked in greeting. He barked and he barked and he barked. He barked in joy.
Dennis knew better than to let me “help” clean up this mess. He knew what he was doing. So I handed over the chainsaw and he said: “Okay, where’s this tree?” I showed him and he went to work. Dennis is a guy who “smokes with two hands” but wields a chainsaw with just one. He had that hemlock down quicker than it took me to get it all hung up in the first place. No structures were damaged in the operation. The collie continued to bark with joy.
As Dennis climbed into his truck to go home, I said thanks and it was good to see him. He said: “Now come up with a better dummy idea the next time you want to see an old bastard.” I told him that would be easy. Dennis drove off as the collie barked goodbye. I looked around at all the dying hemlocks and ashes still standing—trees I grew up with—for my next dummy idea.
Wandering the Lethean gorges of our local Walmart, I encounter a mother with two small boys. Exclaims one of the youngsters: “Wow! This is a really nice Walmart. Way nicer than ours!” All at once I find myself teetering, unroped and alone, on the grand traverse between Melancholy and Joy. It could go either way.
What do you notice in this photo? A cool tree, sure. Lots of hands in the air. Pretty blue sky. The Pacific. Me? I see the lady on the left side/pink mat not following the leader. What does that say about me? More broadly, what does it say about us, if I can be representative of our species? I think it says we notice the people who don’t fall in line. If that’s true, would you rather be the one people notice because you weren’t doing the same thing as everyone else? Or would you rather reach for the sky when all the others are too? Tough choice, eh? So it went last Sunday at Yoga in the Park in Long Beach.
If you call yourself a pro adventure photographer and you call Jackson, Wyoming, your home, you had better be damn good. Take a look at Greg Von Doersten’s work and we think you will understand just how he has used his talented eye to make a name for himself in the proving ground of big mountain culture—and built a career as a successful commercial photographer.
Every erstwhile shutterbug with a taste for fun wants to live the dream and become a pro photographer in a mountain town. And every pro photographer wants to build on their work and succeed in the world of commercial photography. It’s tough to bridge those two worlds and hang on to your soul, but Jackson, Wyoming-based Greg Von Doersten is figuring it out. Born in California, but wandering off for school in Montana and adventure in Wyoming, Von Doersten looks to tell stories in his images and some of his best work takes a view far above the action, making it even more dramatic and engaging. Adventure photography has taken him across the planet, shooting on the Congo with pro kayaker Steve Fisher, to Tibet, to Antarctica, and to some of the wildest spots on the planet with pro athletes like Jeremy Jones and Chris Davenport. He also continues to build a name in the commercial world, shooting for outdoor brands including Helly Hansen and Zeal, and beyond the outdoor industry. “I’m an outdoor/action sports/adventure photographer who is diving into the commercial world of work recently,” he says. “That brings up a lot of new challenges. LA and NYC are a far cry from the mountains, but I enjoy the problem solving and creative challenges of the commercial world as I dive head first into a new market for my photography.” We love to see talented artists get the credit (and cash) they deserve for their hard work… and just take a look at these images.
“Occasionally, I like to take to the air for a unique perspective to make mankind look insignificant in nature. Here, a river surfer carves up Lunch Counter Wave on the Snake River in Alpine, Wyoming.”
“The unstoppable Steph Davis, rock climber extraordinaire (and more recently moving into the BASE and Wingsuit flying realms) on “Johnny Cat,” a 511d classic in Indian Creek, Utah.”
“The Potala palace in Lhasa, Tibet, taken during the evening, when the day light fades to blue and the palace is like a beacon reaching out to all of the Buddhists around the world.”
“Covering Helly Hansen apparel and Mountain Madness mountaineering guides for a a commercial shoot of the new launch of the companies techincal mountaineering line on in the North Cascades.”
“Enjoying the views of Jeremy Jones’ ‘Deeper’ team as they make their way to a first descent in the Fairweather Range in Alaska. I’ve worked with Jeremy since he was in his early 20s and saw him develop from a competition slalom rider into one of the world’s leading big mountain snowboarders.”
“Actor Steve Zahn and a friend enjoy the views from a Vietnamese junk on Halong Bay, North Vietnam. This was a previsualized shot for a feature article in Men’s Journal where I knew I would need a harness and good crew to get me up to the center of the main mast where I could take in the beauty of the bay and the surrounding floating fishing villages which the area is known for.”
“Stian Hagen skis into the ink blue waters of the Antarctica Peninsula on an expedition with American ski mountaineer, Chris Davemport and Stian’s wife Andrea Binning. The team skied a number of peaks, notching a couple first descents, and attempted the first ski descent of Shackleton Peak (without success). Chris created a documentary for Red Bull media and I landed a feature with Outside magazine which ran in the 2011 adventure issue.”
“In Kinshasa the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with our security detail after the documenting the successful kayak descent of the Grand Inga Rapids with expedition leader, Steve Fisher and kayaking team members Ben Marr, Tyler Bradt and Rush Sturges. The Congo is the second largest river in the world but sets itself apart from the rest by having the largest rapids and hydraulics in the world.”
Otto Sverdrup was one of the greatest pioneers of polar exploration alongside Amundsen and Nansen. But we are guessing you never heard of him. By M. Michael Brady
Otto Sverdrup (1854-1930) is considered to be one of the three Norwegians prominent in the history of the golden era of polar exploration. The other two are Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. Nansen certainly originated much and inspired others. Amundsen is most remembered as the man who beat Scott to the South Pole in 1911. In comparison, Sverdrup’s polar achievements and leadership seem unheralded.
In his unpublished autobiography of 1962, Arctic explorer Henry A. Larsen sought to change that low ranking, writing that: “in my opinion, Otto Sverdrup was the most competent and practical of all the Norwegian explorers of that era. But being both shy and reticent, he was satisfied with taking a back seat and was of course overshadowed by such men as Nansen and Amundsen. From my own personal knowledge of the Arctic, there is no doubt in my mind today, but that Sverdrup was the most versatile and competent of the three.” [Quoted in Ships of wood and men of iron, p. xvi].
Larsen’s assessment may be the best available. He was born, brought up, and educated at the maritime academy in Norway and had met and been inspired by Amundsen in 1923 in Seattle before emigrating to Canada in 1928. In “Otto Sverdrup, Never Baffled”, Sverdrup’s definitive biographer, Per Egil Hegge echoes Larsen in observing that “Otto Sverdrup completely lacked the ability to publicize himself.” The picture that then emerges is of Sverdrup as the quiet man of polar exploration.
By his full name, Otto Neumann Knoph Sverdrup was born the second of ten children of a tenant farming family on the Horstad gård, a large farmstead in the municipality of Bindal at 65°N in the fjord indented mountainous landscape of northern Norway. The Sverdrups were of a family that traced its lineage back more than two centuries to its progenitor, Peder Michelsen Sverdrup, a royal tax collector appointed in 1624 when Denmark ruled Norway. The surname Sverdrup came from that of a small village in the Southern Jutland region of Denmark that borders on Germany.
Otto and his elder brother Peter Jakob were tutored by their maternal grandfather, whose teaching methods were direct. He taught the boys to swim by rowing them out on the Bindal Fjord and tossing them into the water to find for themselves how to get to land. Otto got his first rifle when he was ten years old. Then he and Peter Jakob went hunting, on foot in summer and on skis in winter. At age 14, he shot his first bear.
At age 17 in 1872, Otto Sverdrup went to sea. He studied in Trondheim and then Christiania (now Oslo), where he qualified as a mate in 1875 and as a shipmaster in 1878. In that year, at the age of 24, he became captain of the Trio, one of the first steamships in coastal traffic in mid Norway. In the following decade, he sailed as a merchant ship officer to destinations in Norway and abroad, including the USA. As he was pursuing his maritime career, his father had bought and in 1874 moved the family to the Trana Farm at Ogndal just east of the small city of Steinkjer, one degree of latitude south of Bindal. So Steinkjer had become Sverdrup’s home on land. At the time, the Sverdup family’s legal advisor was Alexander Nansen, a lawyer who lived and worked in Namsos, just north of Steinkjer. That connection was to change the course of Sverdrup’s career.
Early in 1888, Sverdrup learned from lawyer Alexander Nansen of the search of his elder by one year brother Fridtjof Nansen for members of an expedition then being planned to cross Greenland on skis. So on February 8, he wrote Fridtjof Nansen in Christiania to indicate his interest in taking part in the expedition. On February 20, Alexander sent Fritjof a telegram recommending Otto Sverdrup as an ideal expedition member. The rest is history.
Nansen chose Sverdrup for the Greenland crossing expedition. The four other members were two other explorers, Oluf Christian Dietrichson, and Kristian Kristiansen, and two Sami reindeer herders, Samuel Johannesen Balto and Ole Nilsen Ravna, chosen in part because the expedition had been initially planned using reindeer and because they were superb long-distance skiers with an innate ability to get along in snow-covered landscape. The six-man party sailed on the sealer Jason to the east coast of Greenland, and then rowed two small boats northward for 12 days and nights to Umivik, a village near the Gyldenlöve Fjord at 64°24’N. They left Umivik on skis on August 15, 1888 and arrived at the Ameralik Fjord on the west coast at 64°7’N on September 29 to complete the first documented crossing of Greenland.
In 1891-92, Sverdrup advised Nansen in the building in Larvik of the Fram (“Forward”), a polar exploration ship designed by Scottish naval architect Colin Archer to withstand freezing into the drift ice in Nansen’s planned three-year Arctic science expedition that included an effort to reach the North Pole.
The Fram was launched on October 26, 1892. Sverdrup was given command, and she sailed from Christiania on June 24, 1893 and finally from Vardø in North Norway in late July. On October 5, she reached and was frozen into the drift ice at more than 79°N. After two winters drifting with the ice, in March 1895, Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen left the ship to ski with a dogsled team to reach the Pole, and Sverdrup assumed command of the expedition. By April 7, Nansen and Johansen had reached 86°14’N, but turned around as they reckoned they couldn’t reach the Pole and return before the end of the Arctic summer. Their return was arduous, and they were obliged to overwinter in a makeshift shelter on Franz Joseph Land. By mid June they had reached Cape Flora. On the 17th, they experienced what was to become the most famed chance encounter of Polar exploration. Nansen first caught sight of and approached British polar explorer Frederick George Jackson, who had assumed that the Nansen expedition had perished, as there had been no word from it for three years. The two men stood for a few moments staring at each other. Then Jackson asked: “You are Nansen, aren’t you?”, to which Nansen replied, “Yes, I am Nansen.” Thereafter, Nansen and Johansen returned with the British expedition to north Norway, where they rejoined Sverdrup and the Fram in August 1896.
In 1898, Sverdrup again sailed on the Fram, as captain of the ship and leader of a four-year scientific expedition to northwestern Greenland and eastern Canada, an area on the globe then poorly mapped. He chose five scientists—a cartographer, a geologist, a botanist, a zoologist, and a medical doctor—and a crew of ten. Interestingly, one man that Sverdrup asked to join the crew was Hermann Smith-Johannsen, who could not accept as he wished to finish his engineering studies in Berlin. Later, Smith-Johannsen emigrated to Canada in 1907 and there became a well-known cross-country skier nicknamed “Jackrabbit.”
From the start, the expedition was successful. It explored Ellesmere Island and mapped an area of some 65,000 square miles in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavit. Flora and fauna were observed and documented, and geological and oceanographic observations were recorded. Like polar expeditions of its time, it tested and proved the hardiness of its participants, not least of its leader. One night during the first winter, Sverdrup had imbibed a bit much in celebrating his 45th birthday and fell asleep outside his tent without his mittens, at a temperature of minus 35°C (-31°F). When he awoke, he just went back inside the tent and continued sleeping, apparently completely uninjured.
The expedition was comprehensively documented in Sverdrup’s own words in New Land. As described in the Prologue of Sverdrup’s Arctic Adventures, Sverdrup compiled the book in the winter of 1902-1903. With the diaries and charts of the expedition spread out in front of him, he dictating to a shorthand recorder provided by the Norwegian government, to speed publication of the book. Arctic historian Gerard Kenney considers Sverdrup’s second Fram expedition to be one of the greatest ever of polar exploration. In the Acknowledgements of Ships of wood and men of iron, he remarks that upon their return to Norway, the members of the expedition “came back with a record of geographic and scientific discovery, the richness of which is unparalleled in the annals of Arctic exploration.”
After the stunningly successful New Land expedition, Sverdrup continued to sail Arctic waters. One of his lesser known exploits was his search and rescue mission for the Imperial Russian Navy. In 1914-15 on the Eclipse (a Dundee whaler built in 1867),he sought two missing Russian Arctic Expeditions, one led by Greorgy Brusilov on the Santa Anna schooner and the other by Vladimir Rusanov on the Hercules ketch. In retrospect, the enormity of Sverdrup’s search is reflected in an account of survival in the Arctic written by the navigator of the ill-fated Brusilov expedition, who after having been at odds with his commander for months, left the Santa Anna in April 1914 and after a 235 mile trek to Cape Flora in Franz Josef Land, survived to write In the Land of White Death, an account of his ordeal published in Russian in 1917 (translated into German in 1925 and into English in 2000). Sverdrup’s rescue mission for the Imperial Navy was unsuccessful. The fates of the two expeditions remained unknown until many years later, when the Soviet Arctic Institute found relics of the Rusanov expedition in 1937 and explorers found remains of the Brusilov expedition in 2010.
Sverdrup went on his fourth and last voyage in Siberian waters in the summer of 1921. From the bridge of the Soviet ice-breaker Lenin, he led an experimental convoy of four cargo vessels from England to the Ob and Yenisei rivers, replicating a trade route proved feasible by Nansen in 1913 (the centennial of which was observed in 2013 by a Norwegian-Russian expedition, reported in Through Siberia with Nansen, Mountain Gazette, March 4, 2015). Sverdrup’s cargo convoy to the Kara ports and back again was a commercial success. In the in the years that followed, larger convoys were sent along the Arctic sea route that Sverdrup had helped pioneer.
In 1908, Sverdrup had bought Villa Walle on a hill overlooking the town of Sandvika, a southern suburb of Oslo. It had become his home on land, which he called “Homewood.” It was there he died on November 26, 1930.
Memorials to Sverdrup abound. A crater near the South Pole of the Moon is named Otto Sverdrup. The archipelago of the northern Queen Elizabeth Islands in the Arctic Ocean west of Ellesmere Island that he discovered and mapped on the second Fram expedition are is now known as the Sverdrup Islands. In mid 1957, Crown Prince (and later King) Olav unveiled a statue of him by sculptor Carl E. Paulsen in Steinkjer, where he lived in his youth. Sculptor Per Ung created two Otto Sverdrup works in bronze, a bust in Bindal, where he was born, and a statue in Sandvika, where he died. In 2004, upon the 150 anniversary of Sverdrup’s birth, Norway, Canada, and Greenland had a joint issue of commemorative Sverdrup stamps. One of the Royal Norwegian Navy’s five Fridtjof Nansen class frigates is named the HNoMS Otto Sverdrup. The LN-DYO, a Boeing 737-300 in the Norwegian (airline) fleet of passenger airliners featuring tailfin portraits of the famed, honors Otto Sverdrup.
Had men’s magazines existed in Sverdrup’s time, he probably would have been a regular feature on covers. With his fiery red beard, piercing blue eyes, and muscular build, he personified the powers needed to prevail in polar exploration. But just as time travel has yet to happen, that will not come about. Otto Sverdrup remains one of the greatest and most enigmatic of polar explorers.
Further reading (books mentioned in text):
Ships of Wood and Men of Iron: A Norwegian-Canadian Saga of Exploration in the High Arctic, by Gerard Kenney [Toronto, Natural Heritage Books, 2005, 139 page paperback, ISBN 978-1897045060].
New Land: Four Years in the Arctic Regions by Otto Sverdrup, translated by Ethel Harriet Heam, [original edition: London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1904, 2 volumes hardcover; republished 2014 by Cambridge University Press, 518 page paperback, ISBN 978-1108071109.]
Sverdrup’s Arctic Adventures, adapted with explanatory notes from Sverdrup’s New Land, by T.C. Fairley [London, Longmans, 1959, 305 page hardcover].
Otto Sverdrup, Aldri Rådløs (“Otto Sverdrup, Never baffled”), by Per Egil Hegge [Oslo, JM Stenersens Forlag, 1996, large format (9.6 x 12.4 inch), 264 page hardcover, ISBN 988-82-7201-198-6], the definitive Sverdrup biography, with a 52 page addendum by mariner Asbjørn F. Aastrøm (in Norwegian only). Author Hegge also published an equivalent biography of Fridtjof Nansen in 2002.
In the Land of White Death by Valerian Albanov [New York, Modern Library, 2000, 243 page paperback, ISBN 978-0679783619], the account of survival in the Arctic, by the navigator of the ill-fated Imperial Russian expedition led by Brusilov.
Persons mentioned in text (in addition to Otto Sverdrup, in alphabetical order by surname)
Asbjørn F. Aastrøm (1944- ), Norwegian Arctic mariner
Valerian Albanov (1881-1919), Russian navigator, one of two survivors of Brusilov expedition
Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), Norwegian polar explorer, first to South Pole.
Colin Archer (1832-1921), Scottish naval architect and shipbuilder, lived and worked in Larvik, Norway.
Samuel Johannessen Balto (1891-1921), Sami reindeer herder, on Greenland crossing with Nansen.
When people advise you to “take the high road,” most probably don’t realize their admonition serves two purposes. Yes, the moral high road is worthwhile every time. But so is the actual high road, in this case an old mining track on 13,684-foot Bald Mountain, just east of Breckenridge. My brother was in town and my chain broke a few minutes into our initial planned route, so we doubled back to Main Street, bought a new chain, and proceeded up Plan B: the high road.