Erling Kagge

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Erling Kagge (born January 15, 1963) is a Norwegian explorer, publisher, author, lawyer, art collector, entrepreneur and politician.[1]

Three Poles Challenge[edit]

Erling Kagge is the first person to reach the North Pole, South Pole and the summit of Mount Everest on foot.[citation needed]

In 1990, Erling Kagge and Børge Ousland became the first people ever to reach the North Pole unsupported.[2] 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 sledges.[3]

In 1992 and 1993, Kagge completed the first unsupported and solo expedition to the South Pole, covering the 814-mile (1,310 km) route in 50 days.[4] Kagge had no radio contact to the outside world for the duration of this expedition, which was featured on the cover of the international edition of Time magazine on March 1, 1993.[5]

In 1994, Kagge summited Mount Everest, thus becoming the first person to complete the "Three Poles Challenge" on foot.[6]


For two years, Kagge worked as a lawyer for industrial giant Norsk Hydro. Kagge has also sailed across the Atlantic twice, around Cape Horn and to the Antarctic Peninsula.

After his record-breaking feat of reaching the "three poles", Kagge attended Cambridge University to study philosophy for three terms. In 1996, he founded the eponymous Oslo-based publishing house, Kagge Forlag. In 2000 Kagge Forlag acquired one of Norway's oldest publishing companies, J.M. Stenersens Forlag. Kagge and Stenersens publish approximately 100 new titles annually. It is Norway's biggest publisher of nonfiction.[7]

Kagge has written eight books on exploration, philosophy and art collecting, which have been translated into 39 languages.[8] He has written for the Financial Times, The New York Times[9] and The Guardian.[10]


Kagge is a keen walker and continues to do expeditions, although with a lower profile than in the 1990s. In 2010 he and urban historian and photographer Steve Duncan descended into the sewers, subways and water tunnels of New York – walking for five days from the Bronx, via Manhattan, to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Kagge also does shorter walks: In 2012 he walked the entire length of Los Angeles' Sunset Boulevard over three days with Petter Skavlan and Peder Lund.[11] In December 2019 Kagge, Skavlan and Lund walked the entire length of New York's Broadway – from Sleepy Hollow to the tip of Manhattan - in 24 hours.

Published works[edit]

Kagge's five most recent books are Manhattan Underground, A Poor Collectors Guide to Buying Great Art, Silence in the Age of Noise, Walking – One Step at a Time and Philosophy for Polar Explorers. Kagge's book Silence: In the Age of Noise was broadcast as BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week in January 2019.[12] The Guardian named it one of the top ten books on silence.[13] On Point, NPR, put Silence on their list for Best Books of 2017 [14] and American Booksellers Association nominated it as Book of the Year, 2018.[15] The New York Times has described Erling Kagge as "a fascinating man. He's a philosophical adventurer or perhaps an adventurous philosopher",[11] and Financial Times identified Kagge as "something of a Renaissance man".[16]

Kagge has been on the cover of L'Uomo Vogue.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Kagge has three daughters: Nor, Ingrid and Solveig.

Kagge is a leading collector of international contemporary art.[18] Four European museums have dedicated shows to his collection in recent years: Astrup Fearnley Museum for Modern Art in Oslo,[19] Fondacion van Gogh Arles, Sala Santander in Madrid and Museion in Bolzano.[20][21]

The pioneering explorer supports the Premier League club Arsenal, stating 'Over the years I've sailed the oceans, skied to the Poles, climbed the mountains and written books, but Arsenal have never been out of my thoughts'.[22]


  • 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). 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.
  • Kagge, Erling (2015). A Poor Collector's Guide to Buying Great Art. Kagge Forlag
  • Kagge, Erling (2015). Manhattan Underground. World Editions.
  • Kagge, Erling (2017). Silence: In the Age of Noise. Pantheon. ISBN 15-247-3323-7.
  • Kagge, Erling (2019). Walking: One Step At a Time. Knopf Doubleday ISBN 1524747858.
  • Kagge, Erling (2019). Philosophy for Polar Explorers: An Adventurer´s Guide to Surviving Winter. Viking. ISBN 9780241404867.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Derfor ble Erling Kagge Høyres nyeste partitopp: - Man kan ikke bare tenke på seg selv" (in Norwegian). April 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Guinness World Records
  3. ^ National Geographic, March 1991
  4. ^ Buchan, James (January 8, 1993). "Echoes of Amundsen as Norwegian races to Pole". The Independent. UK. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  5. ^ "2006 Rolex Awards for Enterprise – Committee Selection". Rolex Awards for Enterprise. Archived from the original on January 9, 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  6. ^ "AdventureStats heads-up: Three poles correction – Erling Kagge first". ExplorersWeb. August 13, 2008. Archived from the original on May 22, 2018. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Norla
  9. ^ Financial Times
  10. ^ Kagge, Erling (September 23, 2017). "The power of silence in the smartphone age". The Guardian.
  11. ^ a b Feuer, Alan (December 31, 2010). "The Wilderness Below Your Feet". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  12. ^ Author: Erling Kagge; Reader: Cal MacAninch; Abridged and produced by Eilidh McCreadie (January 28, 2019). "Silence". Book of the Week. BBC. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  13. ^ Bookweb
  14. ^ "Best Books of 2017 — on Point Staff Picks".
  15. ^ "Our Finalists for 2018 Indies Choice, E.B. White Read-Aloud, Indie Champion, and Picture Book Hall of Fame".
  16. ^ Milne, Richard (November 16, 2018). "Explorer Erling Kagge on why we walk and the tyranny of tech". Financial Times. Archived from the original on December 11, 2022. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  17. ^ "'The Great Beyond' Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge wear Dsquared2 Fall Winter 202... | Fashion mag, Creative director, Fashion studio". L'Uomo Vogue. October 2020.
  18. ^ Skreddernes, Simon (October 24, 2013). "A Polar Explorer's Art Adventure". The Wall Street Journal. New York City. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  19. ^ "Astrup Fearnley Museum for Modern Art". Archived from the original on May 26, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  20. ^ El País
  21. ^ Collection of Erling Kagge
  22. ^ Brennan, Dan (2004). The official Arsenal miscellany. London: Hamlyn. p. 52. ISBN 9780600612599.