The other day I read an article in The Economist with the headline, A New Age Of Discovery. Basically it is saying that exploration is becoming more scientific and democratic. And that exploration in the name of being first is giving away to, let me quote directly ” to a higher-minded thirst to preserve the planet for future generations.” I think indeed there are signs that this is happening. The Explorers Club for example put a lot of emphasis on the scientific value of an Expedition, before they grant you a flag for example. And most people within this genre that I personally know, is doing exactly this, BUT, they are like me, getting old and they have changed their attitude over the years and today they understand the difference of being first and doing some kind of a scientific job which hopefully gives a better perspective of the world we live in.
However, 95% of all the emails I get from young people, and I do get a fair amount, they´re all into the being the first to do this and that factor. They want to be heroes first and scientists second if there´s a choice. So it is also a case of age I believe. And, after having spent years doing research into for example the history of the North and specifically the North Pole, I think it is part of being a human being wanting to do firsts. And pretty much doing anything to be able to claim a first of something. With age, this changes, luckily and/or hopefully, but it is part of who we are. Today, however, due to new technology, new rules and more information (but I doubt better, due to the sad status of today´s journalism), claiming firsts is getting much harder. At the same time as I read this above mentioned article in The Economist (which is seen pretty much only from a British perspective, which is always slightly skewed and insular) I was sent this article about the four young British trekkers claiming to do the first crossing of Iceland, this extra ordinary island. I found it an extra ordinary claim of course and it didn´t take long until things went badly wrong for the group. They had to call out rescue teams three times! I guess that is a first! However, the Icelandic Alpine Club through a fellow calling himself Sissi wrote an excellent article on the subject, which should be read by everyone who wants to do firsts and claim such things. It is really a good article followed by interesting comments.
Now, I want to stand up for these guys. I agree they did a few less good choices, like skis and setting off too early on a big journey like this, but at least they tried! And I see when reading comments from icelanders after the Youtube clip below of their promotion video, and other vulgar Brits, they are really rough on them. I know that 99% of these people, including the Icelanders, have very little experience from these types of journeys themselves and as they do, attack the boys for disturbing the dinner for the resucers, that is just hilarious and so….Scandinavian spoilt comfortable know it alls! Life is about taking chances and risks and they gave it a try. Which is better than most other people. And I will never ever understand people who most of the time have no personal experience, spend so much energy and time to talk these young fellas down. For me, that is worse than failing the way the boys did. My advice to them, prepare better next time!