Adventurers of the Year 2005

Kristijan Curavic

There's an argument out there that no one has really been to the North Pole. Deep under the Arctic pack ice, the real Pole, terra firma, still lies unvisited, and probably rightfully so. But last April, Kristijan Curavic, 31, went a little way toward getting there.

Outside Camp Barneo, the Russian polar base at latitude 89° N, one degree below the North Pole, Curavic cut a hole in the six-foot-thick (two-meter-thick) ice and, outfitted in a wet suit, made a freedive to 168 feet (51 meters) in the 28ºF water, the deepest ever in the Arctic (though still a very long 14,000 feet [4,267 meters] from the bottom).

Though he admits the chill was a challenge, Curavic, who is a professional freediver from the island of Krapanj, in Croatia, waxes rhapsodic when he describes the "dark, clear water in those very cold places. It is like nothing you'll see anywhere else."

And the rest of the world, no doubt, will take his word for it.