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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Cecilie Skog

Cecilie SkogCecilie Skog, born on August 9th, 1974 in Alesund, Norway is a Norwegian professional adventurer, guide and lecturer. She studied and worked as a nurse, but since summiting Mount Everest in 2004, she has worked as a professional adventurer, guide and lecturer.

She has crossed the Antarctic without supplies delivered along the route, using just pure muscle power. Where previous expeditions had used ski sails and dogs, all the girl from Sunnmore had with her were skis and a pulk sled.

Her interest in the outdoors started to emerge seriously in her teens when Cecilie felt a growing desire to embrace the great outdoors. Together with a sense of achievement and curiosity, along came the dreams. Dreams about other mountains and glaciers she wanted to get to know.

"I didn't dream about writing a piece of world history, just about going on adventures. It was about living for the moment", she says.

As well as settings records, Cecilie has crossed Greenland five times, climbed five 8,000-meter peaks and attempted to reach the North Pole in the summer. She has also walked across Greenland whilst pregnant.

Cecilie SkogCecilie Skog's achievements as a mountaineer and polar explorer are unparalleled, and her love of nature and hiking is one of the cornerstones of her life.

Cecilie Skog is one of the most prominent female adventurers in the world. She is the only person in the world to have climbed the Seven Summits and to have skied to the South and North Poles.

She has crossed the Antarctic without supplies delivered along the route, using just pure muscle power. Where previous expeditions had used ski sails and dogs, all the girl from Sunnmore had with her were skis and a pulk sled.

Her interest in the outdoors started to emerge seriously in her teens. The mountains pierced the skies, and Cecilie felt a growing desire to embrace the great outdoors. Together with a sense of achievement and curiosity, along came the dreams. Dreams about other mountains and glaciers she wanted to get to know.

"I didn't dream about writing a piece of world history, just about going on adventures. It was about living for the moment", she says.

As well as settings records, Cecilie has crossed Greenland five times, climbed five 8,000-meter peaks and attempted to reach the North Pole in the summer. She has also walked across Greenland whilst pregnant.

Cecilie SkogMy trips don't have to be long and demanding. Wherever I go, my trips help me gather my thoughts and achieve peace of mind.

Her achievements as a mountaineer and polar explorer are extremely impressive, and her love of nature and hiking is one of the cornerstones of her life. In spite of the great amount of happiness she has experienced, she has also encountered tragedy.

In 2008 she lost her husband, Rolf Bae, on a mountaineering expedition on the mountain, K2, on the border between Pakistan and China. Cecilie is currently engaged to adventurer Aleksander Gamme, with whom she also has a daughter, and a new addition to the family came in late summer 2016.

Cecilie trained as a nurse and comes from Alesund. She also studied outdoor education at Volda University College, and has a long track record as a mountain guide both at home and abroad.

She has also worked as a glacier guide and glacier instructor. In recent years she has published several books and has also been host of the NRK TV show "Drommeturen".

In August 2008, she climbed K2. Her husband, Rolf Bae, who had been climbing with her on K2, perished during the descent, as did ten other mountaineers.

Cecilie successfully descended, but her husband and the others were caught by an avalanche and died on the mountain.

Cecilie SkogSkog told the story about her trip to K2 with Bae with watery eyes when she said, "How could I go home? What was I going home to? Rolf was my home and I had to leave him there on the mountain."

While other climbers' spouses resented the months they spent away from home and the risks they took, Cecilie Skog and Rolf Bae were both accomplished mountaineers - she was the first woman to stand at both poles and on the tallest peaks in every continent. They often climbed together and shared a passion for the outdoors.

They had met on Mount Elbrus in Russia back in 2003 and got married in 2007 - just over a year before the ascent of K2. They had moved in together in Stavanger, in Norway, and started a business leading other expeditions.

Cecilie felt ready to have children and they had even discussed it. She thought she could return to working as a nurse and when they climbed, they could take their children with them to the mountains. But Rolf wasn't ready to settle down. Sadly, he died on the mountain, swept away by an ice avalanche only several metres in front of Cecilie.

Cecilie was the first to arrive at K2 in 2008. When Rolf arrived later he had brought her a present - a colourful plastic inflatable sofa for their tent, where they could socialise with other teams by the warmth of a gas heater, enjoying DVDs on Rolf's laptop.

Cecilie reached the summit on August 1st, but Rolf turned back, tired and perhaps suffering from altitude sickness. He waited for his wife and they began to descend together. Then, Rolf ventured out under a huge ice cliff and was swept off into the void as the ice collapsed.

Cecilie SkogCecilie composed herself and gradually continued with her descent. The next day she got to the base of the mountain - helped, she was convinced, by Rolf's voice whispering to her. She telephoned Rolf's parents in Norway to tell them their son was dead. He was their only child.

"It's OK," Rolf's father assured her. "We only have you now. You must get down safely."

Back home in Norway, she couldn't face the apartment she had shared with Rolf, and moved in with his parents. She continued to rely on their support and the support of her friends as she struggled to come to terms with what had happened.

She also continued to travel - to Greenland not long after K2 and last winter to the south pole with an American adventurer, Ryan Waters. Those trips began to help her get over Rolf's death, she says. She was determined not to give up her life in the wilderness.

In 2010, she came to New York City. People were struck that she had brought her climbing harness - she spent many days climbing the walls in a sports centre in Manhattan, and bouldering in Central Park.

"It is very easy to sit here and say we should not have done it," she said. "But I am glad that Rolf was able to live the life he did. One thing that he taught me: You should not just sneak after your dreams. You should grab them with both hands and hold them really tight and try to live them."

The following year she planned to travel back to K2 with Rolf's father to set up a monument to Rolf. But she will never climb K2 again or any of the Earth's tallest, most dangerous peaks.

Cecilie SkogShe says she will miss the exhilaration. "But I have decided that's not for me now. I don't know if I could tell my mum that I am going back. I could not look her in the eye and say that. One of the hardest things on an expedition is knowing people are sitting at home scared and waiting for you to come back."

"When Rolf and I went to the Himalaya in 2003, we were living totally autarkic. We ate potatoes for two months, sometimes cooked, and sometimes fried. I like it as simple and as real as possible."

"When I see other expeditions that take giant dome tents and televisions on the trip, I think they are not really present on the mountain - I don't go to a base camp to play video games."

"We managed the expedition into the ice without any support and without any material depots. We dragged our entire luggage on our sleds," Skog said.

When Bae died on K2 Skog had already become the first woman to complete the Explorer's Grand Slam which is to climb the seven summits, ski across Greenland and visit the North and South Pole.

After his death she was not motivated to leave her home for a year. "The beaches at our home town at that time - Stavanger - helped me. First, I just sat there and tried to hide in the grass, so no memories or thoughts could find me."

Cecilie Skog"Later on, I went there with friends and relatives, with Rolf's parents as well. It was easier to breath on the beach. I had the horizon, the air, the sky. Slowly I regained strength and developed new dreams."

"Rolf taught me that dreams are precious. So I grabbed my dreams with both hands and asked two girlfriends if they wanted to cross Greenland with me. They both wanted to. It was fantastic. Suddenly I had found people again with whom I could share my dreams. It helped me to come back to life," Skog said.

Ryan Waters, an American explorer, joined Skog for the Greenland crossing. "After Greenland, I felt alive and wanted to keep skiing."

"I asked Ryan to cross Antarctica with me", he said: 'Where's Antarctica?' In January 2010 the pair finished the first unassisted and unsupported crossing of Antarctica ever.

They took 70 days, from November 13, 2009 to January 21, 2010, to complete the more than 1,800 km long journey across the Antarctic continent.

"We packed 78 kilograms of food for 78 days and took a lot of time to enjoy the 800 kilometre march. During the tour Rolf felt very close to me. I simply let my feelings get out, I cried almost every day."

"It felt so good to crawl dog-tired into the sleeping-bag at night, and finally to be able to fall asleep without taking any medicine. And it felt good to have somebody with me who understood me and gave me the necessary freedom," Skog said with a big smile on her face.

In January 2010, she finished the first unassisted and unsupported crossing of Antarctica with Ryan Waters.

Cecilie SkogIn 2011, she returned to the North Pole, "In summer 2011, I wanted to go to the North Pole with the Norwegian adventurer Rune Gjeldnes using skis and folding canoes."

"Well, we didn't get very far. Often there was too little water to paddle and too much water to ski. I learned one thing on that trip: it is not important to reach the goal, but to go outside, to try your best, and have fun."

Skog, from Alesund, Norway has been a professional adventurer since turning the typical Norwegian Friluftsliv (outdoor lifestyle) into a profession. On Saturday, Nov 2nd, she gave a one-hour presentation at the Eric Harvie Theatre as part of the Banff Film Festival. She brought the audience on an emotional roller coaster as she relived tragic times and epic highs.

With her curly blonde Scandinavian hair, glacier blue eyes and a Norwegian ascent she began her multimedia show about her trip to the South Pole, followed by her trip to the North Pole.

"Rolf believed that you are not really an outdoor person until you've gone to one of the poles. He loved the Antarctic and had spent 18 months there."

"So after my trip to Everest, he asked me if I wanted to cross Greenland with him. On this trip, I became infected with the polar virus and wanted more of the wide horizon and of the feeling of just walking further and further."

"During our trip through Greenland we decided to walk to the South Pole and to the North Pole," she said while photos from her trips flashed behind her."

Cecilie SkogAfter Skog showed a short video of herself singing to the Arctic Ocean, from her canoe named for her grandmother, a song which her grandmother used to sing to her, she thanked everyone for coming. What followed was one of the loudest standing ovations the Banff Centre has had.

After the show when asked about what her next adventure will be she said, "Sailing! I've got a boat in Barcelona and enjoy learning something new from scratch. Sailing is a bit like ski expeditions, the vastness, the sky, the freedom."

Skog took her girlfriends and sister Monica on a girl trip to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro's highest point at Uhuru peak, a total of 5895 meters above sea level. According to Skog, she had long dreamed of a dream to do just that.

"When I have had good nature experiences, I have often wished I could share it with my girlfriends. That none of them, except Cecilie herself, had experience from top trips, did not let her stand in the way of fulfilling the dream."

"Of course, it is an advantage to have worn hiking boots before, but the most important thing is that you like to be with other people for a long time, she explains."

But the trip was not quite as Skog had hoped. Along the way, the girls were filmed by photographer Tom Edvindsen, and the movie "Girls for Kilimanjaro" was shown on television in Norway. In the film you could see, among other things, that several of the ladies become very ill during the six-day trip.

"Six of us were affected by a stomach virus. The first thing I thought was that it was altitude related", says Skog. Gradually, she noticed that those who slept in tents with the supposedly sick participants themselves became ill.

Cecilie Skog"When I saw how it got infected, I realized that it was something we had brought with us from home." Also Skog herself was exposed to the stomach virus, but did not tell this to the others before the trip was over.

"I didn't want them to worry that I couldn't take care of them", says Skog. Fortunately, it turned out that the disease was transient, and almost the whole group reached the top.

"Unfortunately one of the participants was struck by bronchitis, but most of us reached the goal", smiles Cecilie. Admittedly, she does not want to reveal if she has any concrete plans for where to go next.

"I have many plans, but have a particularly strong dream of experiencing the Arctic Ocean", she says secretly. She herself has no doubt that there will be many more expeditions both at home and abroad.

"There are a lot of places I haven't been. And I have, for example, only climbed a thousandth of the mountains in Norway", she says enthusiastically.

Admittedly, she does not want to reveal if she has any concrete plans of where she'll go to next. "I have many plans, but have a particularly strong dream of experiencing the Arctic Ocean", she says.

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Mountain Summits

Aconcagua, 6962 m (South America) 1999
Denali, 6194 m (North America) 2001
Elbrus, 5642 m (Europe) 2003
Mount Everest, 8848 m (Asia) 2004
Kilimanjaro, 5895 m (Africa) 2004
Mount Vinson, 4897 m (Antarctica) 2006
Mount Kosciuszko, 2228 m (Oceania/Australia) 2006
K2, 8611 m (Pakistan) 2008, summited on August 1 with Lars Nessa. First Norwegians to summit K2.

Other Adventures

1996: Mont Blanc 4807 m
2003: Shisha Pangma 8042 m (Reached 7400 m)
2003: Cho Oyu 8201 m
2004: Greenland, crossed the inland ice East to West - 610 km.
2005: K2 8611 m (Reached 7300 m)
2005: South Pole, skied from Ross Ice Shelf to the pole in 32 days.
2006: North Pole, skied from Ellsemere Island to the pole in 49 days.
2007: Carstensz Pyramid, 4884 m (Oceania/Papua)
2009: Greenland, crossed the inland ice West to East - 590 km.
2010: Crossed Antarctica, from Berkner Island via the South Pole to Ross Ice Shelf in 70 days and more than 1800 km.
2011: Interrupted ski attempt (dragging a canoe) to North Pole during summertime

Books

Cecilie Skog og de tre polene (2006)
Til Rolf (2009)
Antarktis (2011)
Utemat (2012)
Et friluftsliv (2014)

Major Events

Explorers Grand Slam
Three Poles Challenge





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