Kagge is among Norway's most acclaimed polar explorers. He is the first person to accomplish the "three pole challenge" of reaching the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Mount Everest. Kagge was also the first to walk to the South Pole alone.
In 1990, Erling Kagge and Børge Ousland became the first men ever to reach the North Pole unsupported. The expedition started from Ellesmere Island on March 8, 1990 and reached the North Pole 58 days later on May 4, 1990. They traveled approximately 800 kilometers on skis pulling their supplies on a sledge.
Less than three years later, in 1992–93, Kagge completed the first unsupported expedition to the South Pole, covering the 814-mile (1310 km) route in 52 days. Kagge had no radio contact to the outside world for the duration of his expedition. His was featured on the international edition of TIME magazine on March 1, 1993.
After his record-breaking feat of reaching the "three poles", Kagge attended Cambridge University to read philosophy for three terms. In 1996, he founded Oslo-based publishing house, Kagge Forlag, which quickly grew to become one of Norway’s most profitable publishing companies. In 2000 Kagge Forlag acquired one of Norway’s oldest publishing companies, J.M. Stenersens Forlag. Kagge himself has written five books which have sold more than 100,000 copies.
In addition to running his publishing business, Kagge collects international contemporary art and Russian icons. He serves on the board of the Astrup Fearnley Museum for Modern Art. Adventure and exploration remain intrinsic to his nature, Kagge continues to do major expeditions, although with a lower profile than in the nineties.
- Kagge, Erling (1990). Nordpolen: Det siste kappløpet. J.W. Cappelens forlag. ISBN 82-02-12406-9.
- Kagge, Erling (1993). Alene til Sydpolen. Cappelen. ISBN 82-02-14087-0.
- Kagge, Erling (1994). På eventyr. N. W. Damm & Son. ISBN 82-517-8081-0.
- Kagge, Erling (1994). Pole to Pole & Beyond. N. W. Damm & Son. ISBN 82-517-8082-9.
- Kagge, Erling (2007). Philosophy for Polar Explorers: What They Don't Teach You in School. Pushkin Press. ISBN 1-901285-69-3.
- Buchan, James (January 8, 1993). "Echoes of Amundsen as Norwegian races to Pole". The Independent. UK. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
- "2006 Rolex Awards for Enterprise – Committee Selection". Rolex Awards for Enterprise. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
- "AdventureStats heads-up: Three poles correction – Erling Kagge first". ExplorersWeb. August 13, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2010.