Polar Man




American explorer Will Steger is a throwback to an earlier day when exploration was motivated by discovery and wonder rather than simply to be first. With a half-century of expeditions behind him, no one alive has seen more of the polar world.



olar history is filled with heroic characters, from Amundsen and Scott to Shackleton and Mawson, men driven by a true sense of exploration and discovery. By comparison, what we have come to consider Arctic and Antarctic adventures today qualify more as athletic pursuits or record-breaking achievements.

Steger’s trips qualify as true adventure. Leaving from the backdoor of his rustic cabin on the Minnesota/Canada border wearing clothes he’d bought on the cheap at Salvation Army, with a team of strong but motley sled dogs he’d bought and traded for he would traverse the high north for as long as 18 months.


Along the way he would hunt for food to feed his dogs, to keep his team going in temperatures that dropped to -70, -80. He built rafts to float his dogs down rivers; worked with Native American fire fighting crews to get money to continue his journeys.

His 1986 trip to the North Pole, confirming what Robert Peary had been unable to, was supported by the National Geographic Society, as was his $12 million, 1989-1990 crossing of Antarctica – the longest dog sledding trip in history, and the last in Antarctica. He has criss-crossed the Northwest Territories, done the longest south-to-north traverse of Greenland and crossed over the North Pole from Russia to Canada.

The very first National GeographicExplorer-in-Residence, Steger was also the first explorer to link real adventure with the classroom and among the first to utilize remote learning using the Internet. From the beginning his motivation has been an insatiable curiosity about the lives of polar people and increasingly the environmental changes impacting their lives.

Today, Steger has become one of the country’s most fervent voices on global warming. Photos of Steger in then-Senator Al Gore’s office in 1987, maps spread on the floor between them, show the explorer showing the politician the changes he was already seeing impacting the frozen world.

Exclusive interviews and access to more than fifty years of archival film and photos help tell Steger’s unique story. See the world through the eyes of a man who has seen the polar world up close — an eye-witness to how it is changing, and changing fast.


Polar Man