In 1988, at 50 years old, Helen Thayer was the first woman to ski to the Magnetic North Pole, solo. Accompanied by her husky dog, Charlie, she accomplished the brutally challenging trek in 27 days without dog sled, snowmobile, resupply or support. At 57 years old, she became the first woman to walk the 4,000-mile trade route across the Sahara Desert from Morocco to the Nile River. At 63, she walked 1,600 miles across Mongolia’s Gobi Desert – another world’s first. She also was the first non-indigenous woman to kayak 2,200 miles of the Amazon River and spent a year living next to a wolf den in Yukon, above the Arctic Circle, to study their behavior. At 80, she was the first person to walk solo across the entire length of California’s Death Valley desert north to south. In 2009, the National Geographic Society named her “One of the Great Explorers of the 20th Century.” A bestselling author, her books – Polar Dream, 3 Among the Wolves, Walking the Gobi, and her newest Charlie The Hero by my Side – have been translated into nine languages.

Born: 1937

Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand

Education: Emergency Medical Technician

Occupation: Motivational speaker, writer, educator, president of Adventure Classroom

Expeditions: First woman to travel solo, unsupported, to the magnetic North Pole. First woman to walk across the Sahara (4,000 mi.) and the Gobi Desert (1,600 mi.). In 2017 at age 80, the first person to walk solo, unsupported, the full length of Death Valley

Favorite Place: On any expedition

Best Discoveries: A new orchid flower in the Amazon, documentation of water problems for indigenous peoples, wild wolf behavior

Favorite Items In The Field: Maps, compass, a camera

Personal Heroes: My husband Bill and Sir Edmund Hillary

Hobbies: Hiking, rescuing homeless animals, future expeditions


Advice: Believe in yourself and your project.