Adventurers of the Year 2005

Matty McNair: Polar Explorer

When Matty McNair started out for the North Pole last spring, she was out to settle a score. Ever since the American explorer Robert Peary first reached the Pole in 1909, his feat had been questioned. Skeptics argued that no one could make the 475-mile (764-kilometer) dash there from the east coast of Ellesmere Island in a mere 37 days. And indeed for the next 90 years, no one could. 
But as the guide for British explorer Tom Avery's five-person expedition, it was McNair's mandate to beat Peary's time.

On April 26, mushing in Peary's mythic tracks, using the same kind of wooden sleds and carrying the same 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of supplies, the Nunavut, Canada–based polar guide did just that. Avery's team broke Peary's record by five hours.

"I'd always felt this bond with Peary," McNair says. "He and I had both spent 20 years in the Arctic before we made it to the Pole. He was 52 years old when he got there. I was 53. Our record proves that he could have done it."