Thorleif Tobias (Toby) Thorleifsson, Age 28, Norway
REFLECTIONS OF A YOUNG EXPLORER by Toby Thorliefsson
My path to becoming an Explorer started early. In the early years of my life my parents were always good at getting me outside and never stopped me from doing activities that might be considered dangerous. I got my first skis when I was a year and a half old and since then I have spent as many days of the winter as possible on skis.
Growing up in Norway, the wilderness and the ocean were always close by. Through extensive trips in the Norwegian mountains and sailing voyages in the North Atlantic Ocean I gradually built a strong passion for nature and, perhaps most importantly, a passion for the protection of the natural wonders that surround us.
From an early age I understood that it was important to gain knowledge about nature if you want to protect it. If you want to get knowledge about nature it is important to study it.
Starting when I was 16, therefore, I chose to go to school and university at locations where nature was not far away. I first spent two years in South Wales on the Atlantic coast. I then did my naval service in the Norwegian Arctic before I started my University career in British Columbia, Canada. For almost ten years I studied, Environmental History, Politics, and Exploration History. I did my Master’s degree in Polar History focusing on the Great Norwegian Explorer Otto Sverdrup. While I did this I continued to ski and sail and went on trips in the mountains and voyages by sail on the oceans as often as I could. Every summer during my studies I would return to Norway to work as a mountain and glacier guide.
Then, a year and a half ago, when I finished my Graduate studies, I decided I would spend the next years of my life traveling in and working to protect the polar regions I had spent so long studying. I moved to Finse in the Norwegian mountains and started the long and difficult work to raise enough money to join an expedition to Antarctica. After six moths of work I succeeded and in February and March last year I assisted with the opening of the first educational base station in Antarctica. Three months later I went on an epic voyage by sailboat across the Bering Sea to Frans Josef Land in the Russian Arctic were I encountered my first Polar Bears and walrus. It was the combination of my education and my exploration experience that made Will Steger choose me as a member on the Ellesmere Expedition.
For me, therefore, the path to becoming and explorer has been a long one. If you would like to become an explorer I advise you to focus on your studies as well as spending as much time as possible in nature.