Robert Swan is going out for a walk March 1, a little stroll of 500 miles across the Arctic ice pack to the North Pole. Should his seven-man team complete the trek from Cape Columbia on Ellesmere Island to the pole, Swan will become the first person to walk to both ends of the Earth. In 1986 he led an expedition 883 miles following the path of Robert F. Scott to the South Pole.
In the South Pole walk, the expedition members carried no radio, received no supplies and hauled everything by hand the entire distance. Swan, a 31-year-old British subject, became intrigued with the South Pole when, as a university student, he happened across a book about Scott, according to an article in Outside magazine. Scott's tragic expedition reached the South Pole five weeks after that of Norwegian Roald Amundsen and then perished on the ice.
Swan is something of a character and is not everyone's favorite person. One associate described Swan to Outside as "bigger than life . . . . He wants to recreate the lost era of colonial Britain and he's doing it by becoming a public figure."
It is not uncommon for explorers and adventurers to have giant egos and to be relatively unpopular figures personally. One example is Reinhold Messner, who is the first person to climb all 14 mountains in the world that exceed 8,000 meters in elevation.
Their achievements cannot be overlooked, however. They demonstrate that man does not have to go into space or rely on modern technology to seek new frontiers.
The new frontiers, in fact, are to be found in the human mind.