2006 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: Norway

Erling Kagge
Norway, Born 1963

Norway’s most acclaimed living polar explorer and one of the greatest adventurers of our time, Erling Kagge was the first person to surmount the “three poles” — North, South and the summit of Mt Everest. For the past 15 years, he has been setting new standards in exploration, living up to his motto: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”


Skiing to the Earth’s extremities, sailing the oceans, climbing mountains and reaching beyond himself have been Erling Kagge’s goals since childhood — ambitions inspired by his boyhood heroes, fellow Norwegians Roald Amundsen and Thor Heyerdahl, as well as Albert Schweitzer. Kagge had already sailed across the Atlantic twice, around Cape Horn and to Antarctica and back by the time he received a law degree from the University of Oslo in 1989. He had also begun training for his record-breaking expeditions. In 1990, he became the first man — together with Børge Ousland — to reach the North Pole unsupported. Three years later he was the first to reach the South Pole, walking alone and unsupported for 50 days — an exploit featured on the cover of Time magazine.

For two years during this period, Kagge worked as a lawyer for industrial giant Norsk Hydro. In 1996, after a year’s sabbatical reading philosophy at Cambridge University, he founded what is today one of Scandinavia’s most profitable publishing houses.

In addition to running his business and collecting contemporary art and Russian icons, Kagge lectures frequently to geographical societies and business organizations. His three books on his polar expeditions have sold more than 60,000 copies. “Not everyone can do what I did, but I recommend that each person finds his own South Pole,” says Kagge.

Other 2006 Jury Members