One bad ass explorer
During the end of 1800 and in the beginning of 1900 there were lot of explorers. Some of them more known than others. One of the bad ass one, not so known in Sweden is Peter Freuchen. This man is a real explorer. He was born in 1859 in Nyköbing, Denmark. He got his first own boat at the age of eight. He was rather interested of Hearing the histories down at the harbor then being at school. But he got his education and become title such as a doctor, journalist and an artic scientist, for mention some. He is referred to as Jew, but a friend to him was told by Peter that he was not. But in a company, were some of the participants was anti-Semitism, he was not late to tell he was of Jewish descent.
In 1906 he made his first expedition to Greenland. Later, he crossed the Greenland glacier three times together with Knud Rasmusen. At one of his expedition he become infused, and his beard was frozen to the ground. With his 204cm length he was a stately man, often dressed in his polar bear coat he was impressive. On a journey across Greenland “The first Thule Expedition, he was almost killed. All about these experiences you can read about in his books; Vagrant Vikings and I sailed with Rasmussen. This journey over 1000km across the inland ice was called “The finest ever performed by dogs” from Clements Markham President of the Royal Geographic Society.
He took cover beneath a dog sled, but the snow and ice overtook him and he was trapped. The ice was so tight against him that his beard froze to the ice, meaning that if he wanted to turn his head he had to yank a piece of his beard out. After 30 hours of trying to claw and punch his way to safety, Freuchen ingeniously and hilariously chiseled through the wall of ice with a shank he fashioned from his own shit, crawled three hours back to base, took off his socks, saw his toes had gangrene, and then he amputated his toes with a pair of pliers and a hammer.
Reuchen later became the leader of a movie company, returning to Greenland in 1932 on an expedition financed by the American Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studios. For over 20 years he was employed by the movie industry as a consultant and scriptwriter, specializing in Arctic-related scripts, most notably MGM’s 1933 Oscar winning Eskimo/Mala The Magnificent Starring Ray Mala.
In 1938 he founded the Adventurers club in Denmark, which still exists.
During World War II, Freuchen was actively involved with the Danish resistance movement against the Germans, even without one leg which he lost to frostbite in 1926. He was imprisoned by the Germans during the war, and sentenced to death, but he managed to escape and flee to Sweden. He climbed of the fence and barbwire from his prison, and took a small boat over the small stream to Sweden.
The preface of Freuchen’s last work, Book of the Seven Seas, is dated August 30, 1957, in Noank. He died of a heart attack three days later in Elmendorf, Alaska. After his death, Freuchen’s ashes were scattered on the famous table-shaped Thule Mountain in Greenland.
“The Greenland fjords are peculiar for the spells of completely quiet weather, when there is not enough wind to blow out a match and the water is like a sheet of glass. The kayak hunter must sit in his boat without stirring a finger so as not to scare the shy seals away. Actually, he can only move his eyes, as even the slightest move otherwise might mean game lost. The sun, low in the sky, sends a glare into his eyes, and the landscape around moves into the realm of the unreal. The reflex from the mirror-like water hypnotizes him, he seems to be unable to move, and all of a sudden it is as if he were floating in a bottomless void, sinking, sinking, and sinking…. Horror-stricken, he tries to stir, to cry out, but he cannot, he is completely paralyzed, he just falls and falls.”
― Peter Freuchen, Book of the Eskimos
So there was a man named Peter Freuchen. He was an Artic explorer who took a 1000mile dog sleigh trip across Greenland, starred in a Oscar-winning film, amputated his own toes, escaped from the Nazi death sentence, cut his way out of blizzard shelter with a knife made from his own feces and won 64 000$ question game show. A real legend..
See ya soon…