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What'll You Do for Your Centennial?
Explorer Col. Norman Vaughan has big plans for his birthday As told to Claire Antoszewski

Photo: Explorer Col. Norman Vaughan
Explorer Col. Norman Vaughan

Col. Norman Vaughan, the last living member of Admiral Richard E. Byrd's 1928-1930 Antarctic expedition (the first to fly over the South Pole), has also raced a dog-team in the 1932 Olympic Games, led more than 200 rescue dogs in World War II's Battle of the Bulge, and competed in the Iditarod 13 times. Some heart trouble has kept him from mushing of late, but for his 100th birthday, the "Indomitable Snowman" from Salem, Massachusetts, plans a trip that would test the hearts of men half his age. He's no blowhard, but after 99 years on Earth, he's not short on advice, either.

I was born on December 19, 1905. For my 100th birthday, I plan to go back to Antarctica and climb the mountain that's named for me.

I climbed Mount Vaughan for the first time just before my 89th birthday. I was very glad to be the first person to climb it. It's a very rugged mountain. There are long glaciers on both the north and south sides. I am planning to climb the south glacier which has anywhere between a 30- and 50-degree slope. It is mandatory to rope up because there are many crevasses, and if you slip into a crevasse, you might never come out. Most likely we will take the same route, but the details haven't been finalized yet. I will have six guides, plus a doctor and a nurse at the base. I will have my first taste of champagne ever at the summit. I've never had a drink in my life. Well, only at the altar when I took communion.

My advice for young explorers, or anyone, is dream big and dare to fail. If you don't try to accomplish your dream, you fail before you start.

Pick up the April 2005 issue of Adventure to read more about Vaughan's extraordinary life.

Photograph by Gordon Wiltsie

Additional Excerpts
From the print edition, April 2005

The Adventures of Your Life
Rediscovering Libya: Writer Kira Salak explores the country's wonders
The Tsunami Volunteers: Writer Matthew Power finds a sliver of redemption in the disaster's wake. Plus, how you can lend a hand
Weird Science: Edward Norton talks about hermaphrodite frogs and a new NG TV series on PBS
Pelton's World: Fresh from the Green Zone, Pelton takes a cruise
100th Birthday: Explorer Col. Norman Vaughan's big plans

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Adventure Sounds
Hear audio clips from a World Talk interview with Col. Norman Vaughan about his extraordinary life, his unusual birthday plans, and the wisdom he's picked up along the way.

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April 2005

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