Featured Badass Series: #4 The Arctic Adventurer
As the nights become colder and we prepare for the Winter chill, some look forward to the sports surrounding the season, while others groan at the thought of low temperatures and the snow and ice that follows.
Well, this month, Gear’d Hardware is featuring a badass who would laugh at your pitiful “winter conditions.” He was an Arctic Expeditioner, Journalist, Anthropologist, and Author who killed a wolf with his bare hands, amputated his own gangrene toes...with pliers and a hammer, and wore the fur of the polar bear that fought him and lost. Yeah, this guy wasn’t playing…
Look at that mug! What couldn’t this man do? It seems that he didn’t have a career in singing. That’s the way he scared away the wolves...
So who was he? Peter Freuchen, a Danish Jew born in 1886. Some people try to claim that he lied and wasn’t a Jew. I don’t think they would have the guts to say that to his face. Just look at him at 60 years old. This 6’7” tall giant would break them in half like the Undertaker from the WWE.
Peter could have had a nice, quiet life as a doctor, but that lifestyle wasn’t for him. Instead, he traded it in for every brutally frigid expedition he could find, especially those in Greenland and the North Pole! One in Siberia for good measure.
I'm getting cold just thinking about all that ice and snow...
Peter Freuchen decided to live and work alongside the Inuit for many years, learned their language, hunted with them, and married one. After taking his Inuit wife on expeditions and having two children with her, she sadly died of the Spanish Flu. When the church refused to bury her because "she wasn’t baptized," he buried her his fucking self.
Peter didn’t settle down. No, instead, he became a hero and millionaire with his buddy Knud Rasmussen. They trekked 600 miles with sled dogs to prove that Greenland and the North Pole wasn’t divided by a river.
This was a major accomplishment, and they became famous for it.
Only one other sled team has managed to barely survive that journey. Mind you, the average temperature of these locations is around -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Climbing inside a polar bear looks real damn good in that weather, doesn't it?
He remarried, this time to a millionaire, and became a journalist. He even founded a little island at the North Pole that he called Thule. Most of us would decide to live a luxurious life at this point, but not Peter. He went right back out there.
Peter Freuchen wasn’t just a man that loved the wilderness, he loved adventure and did some crazy shit with shit. Yes, with his own feces. This is why I don’t leave home without a knife and you shouldn’t either...
Peter was caught in a mean blizzard and tipped over his sled to shield himself. But the snow and ice covered him anyway, and buried him alive. His beard was stuck to the ground, and he could barely move.
Did he quit? Hell no! This living MacGyver took the old adage to turn lemons into lemonade and literally crafted the shit he was in into something else. Yep, a turd became his ticket to freedom. After shaping it into a knife, he let it freeze and used that shit to break through the ice. I wonder if the Inuits taught him this trick or if he was just that damned resourceful?
By the time he busted out of that ice coffin, he had to crawl, not walk, but crawl 4 miles to safety because his legs were too numb to walk. When he returned, he cut off his own gangrene toes and needed surgery to cut off the entire leg.
Now, he was a giant badass with a cool pegleg that nobody wanted to fuck with.
But he wasn’t done.
World War II was heating up and instead of his usual Man vs Nature adventures, he decided to test his intellect against the Nazis. And the Nazis couldn’t contain him...
Peter was brazenly Jewish and began working for the Danish underground resistance. Eventually, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death in Germany. Bars hold Peter Fruechen? No way!
He led his group of concentration camp refugees to freedom. With a pegleg, he managed to climb over a barbed wire fence. I’m sure he was no match for anyone who tried to take him down. He escaped to Sweden by boat and then married another beautiful rich lady because why the fuck not?
From that point forward, his adventures were more often written in his works of fiction than lived. As an expert in arctic survival, he was hired to work with filmmakers who wanted their movies to be as realistic as possible. Even in his old age, Peter was so badass that Death politely waited for him to finish his last book. He died three days later at 71 years old from a heart attack while visiting an air force base.
What a life!
Peter Freuchen is an incredible example of a man who lived to the fullest. Thriving in the great outdoors, he was bold and brave, doing what he wanted and doing what was right.
His strength and intellect pulled him through moments where others might have given up. And he lived to tell us all about it. In his lifetime, Peter Freuchen wrote over 30 books and worked in the film industry.
If you are interested in knowing more about his epic tales of adventure, we recommend that you read the references to this article, two nonfiction books written by Peter Freuchen himself:
- Vagrant Viking (1953)
- I Sailed with Rasmussen (1958)