Helen Thayer

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Helen Thayer (née Nicholson; born 12 November 1937) is a New Zealand-born explorer who now lives in the United States.

At 50, she became the first woman to travel solo to the magnetic North Pole, pulling her own sled without resupply.[1] She travelled on foot, with no outside help.[2]

Thayer is the author of ' and Trekking the Gobi: Desert of Dreams and Despair.

She has received the Northwest Explorer's Club's Vancouver Award, and the Robert Henning Award from the Alaskan Geographic Alliance for exploration and education.


  • Traveled alone to the magnetic North Pole accompanied only by her dog, "Charlie". 1988
  • Walked across the Sahara Desert, following an ancient 4,000-mile trade route and it has been recorded that she drank 4,000 gallons of water and 23 gallons of soda.
  • Walked 1,600 miles across the Mongolian Gobi Desert
  • In two expeditions, she kayaked 2,200 miles in the Amazon
  • Lived alongside a wolf den for over 36 months and traveled the Canadian polar sea to study wild wolves for 30 years
  • Represented three countries (New Zealand, Guatemala, United States) in international track and field
  • United States National luge champion


Thayer was honored by the White House and the National Geographic Society, and named "One of the Great Explorers of the 20th Century" by National Geographic and NPR. She was also inducted into the Snohomish County, Washington Sports Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ Our Amazing Planet Staff (April 30, 2012). "8 Unsung Women Explorers". LiveScience.com. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  2. ^ "At Age 50, High-Spirited Helen Thayer Fulfils Polar Dream". ypress.org. February 27, 1995. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 

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