Philosophy for Polar Explorers: What They Don’t Teach You in School.

Rather light stuff with message that nothing is impossible, as it might seem to someone who reached North Pole unsupported, walked to the South Pole, sailed the Atlantic solo, and climbed Everest.

p.25: incorrectly places the Polaris demise and the Tyson drift in 1887 (should be 1871).

p. 59, 61, enroute South Pole: In my sledge I had everything I anticipated needing for those months. Fuel for seventy-five days, food for sixty-six; tent, sleeping bag, one hundred and ninety-six grams of reading material, one thousand, two hundred eighty-two grams of repair kit and absolutely no spares of anything at all. My reading was to be made up of the most possible words and thoughts per gram, with the intention of recycling the books as loo paper. The most sacred of these I planned recycling last, the hope being that I’d reach journey’s end before that became necessary. My edition of The New Testament weighted twenty-eight grams, a small quantity of Buddhist literature thirty-two grams, and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray fifty-eight. I’d read most of this before, but expected to be so exhausted that I’d be content to read good literature that was familiar to me…. Altogether I’d worked out I’d use three-and-a-half sheets a day….

p. 105-06, Reflections on motivation: there are good reasons, and real ones, according to J. P. Morgan. Some are:

Because it’s there.

Conservation, a love of the natural world, peace, the protection of vulnerable cultures, the raising of money for charity and scientific research—these are some of the most common reasons for expeditions.

Knowledge of some sort.


Need for attention and recognition



Adventure seeking—

Playing risks with death

Fame and fortune—notoriety and money

These are always mixed and likely to alter as circumstances change. People lie about it and then the lie becomes truth.

p. 107, quotes Peary: “It’s partly the curiosity, partly a sense of adventure, but mostly I think it’s the fame and the money.”

p. 138, see also later chapter on optimism as motivator.