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Polar Dream: The Heroic Saga of the First Solo Journey by a Woman and Her Dog to the Pole

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  255 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Everyone told her it couldn't be done...especially by a woman. But in 1988, fifty-year-old Helen Thayer, accompanied only by her black husky Charlie, became the first woman ever to ski solo to the North Pole. After overcoming her first obstacle—the unrelenting discouragement she received before setting out—she and Charlie braved brutal temperatures, violent storms, treache ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 1st 1994 by Delta (first published 1992)
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Terri
Dec 08, 2011 Terri rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of the book, "Into Thin Air"
I wish I liked this book more, because the subject, and Thayer's adventures on a solo trek to the magnetic North Pole are really quite exciting. Personally, I thought the writing, though easy and very clear, was just kind of dull. The adventures were good (she encountered a lot of aggressive polar bears, and some scary blizzard conditions), I think I just didn't like Thayer's writing style.

Also, I simply cannot relate to these people who set out to nearly kill themselves on some unbelievably di
...more
Sally
I could not put this book down...which is rare for me!! When I learned that Helen Thayer would be coming to SGS to talk to us about her life adventures, I thought I'd better check her out. This story about her solo trek - on foot and on skis - to the magnetic North Pole is more than a page-turner. It's a scream out loud kind of book! Almost as an after thought, Helen decided to heed to warnings of the Inuit natives who told her she'd become polar bear appetizers within her first day if she didn' ...more
Marjorie Elwood
I loved this book! It was like Lost in the Barrens, but non-fiction and for adults. Thayer, an accomplished mountaineer, gets the idea to walk to the North Pole after she returns safely back to base camp because she had obsessively written compass headings down as she climbed the mountain. On her solo journey to the pole, she encounters polar bears, cracking ice, winds that steal her gear, and accidents but throughout, she and her dog Charlie are indomitable. While reading most adventure stories ...more
Alanna
Feb 27, 2015 Alanna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alanna by: mom
It took a while for me to get into it; it's a style of writing that doesn't usually draw me in. But I'm interested in frozen regions so I kept going, and it paid off. There are a few places that I raced to see what would happen next, some places when I wanted to scream at her. A good book shakes you up, one way or the other, and this did that.

If you read this edition, skip the map in front. It's full of spoilers, which I find very annoying. I wanted to look at a map the whole time, but not that
...more
Gary
Mar 21, 2012 Gary rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy the outdoors
Recommended to Gary by: My book group
Shelves: owned
This is Helen Thayer's journal of her trip to the magnetic north pole and back. She acquires a dog at the last moment before leaving Resolute Bay in northern Canada. It tells of her preparation and why she wants to do this trip. As a mountain climber, she uses her compass to figure out where she is during a white out condition, which probably saves her life(2). She becomes very interested becoming the first women to reach the Magnetic North Pole, solo. Not only that, she is fifty years old and w ...more
Jessica Kelley
First, let me say that I think Helen Thayer is amazing and bad-ass and the story she tells in this book is incredible. However, I wish she had a better editor. There were multiple typos and other issues that distracted me from the book. I know I should just get over it, but I feel like Helen's books should match her accomplishments.
GREAT book in terms of inspiring content.
Jean
Easy-to-read account of Helen's journey with her dog. I can't imagine winter camping without another human being in below zero weather and storms and the fear of a polar bear attack but she did it! At one point a storm blew away the remainder of her food and some stove fuel so she lived on a handful of walnuts and a pint of water a day afterwards - and at each daily check-in radio call she continued to say she was doing fine - not a very smart thing to do!
Betsy Ross
This is the incredible story of Helen Thayer's solo journey to the magnetic north pole. She was the first woman to complete this expedition alone and on foot, without the help of a dog sled team, and was also the oldest person to accomplish this feat (at age 50). For 27 days Helen walked and skied across Arctic Canada to reach the point of the magnetic north pole. She was accompanied by a brave canine, Charlie, who would develop a special bond with Helen and ultimately save her life as they enco ...more
Lee
Brilliant! I loved this book, the author captures a perfect mix of the environment and how she feels throughout the journey. I couldn't put it down, with just one more chapter after the next.
Megan Penner
As far as non-fiction goes, a story like this is fantastic. Thayer's expedition was an amazing feat and her experiences needed no embellishment. I can't imagine had she done this journey without Charlie, he was the perfect companion.
Heidi
Fascinating account. I don't think I could have handled the experience as well as she had, but so glad I can experience it through her storytelling.
Cheryl
I read this book for a Women Outdoors book group. Helen Thayer is an amazing woman. The book talks about her preparation for this trip, people who supported her and how the dog Charlie was her savior on this trek. Her biggest problem were the polar bears. This trek happened before the use of gps systems. Interesting how she tracked her journey and communicated with base camp. Often she did not tell the truth about what was occuring so she wouldn't worry her family. Sometimes this may not have be ...more
Nancy
I don't get it, but I love to read about it and live the adventure vicariously. This woman faced things that any sane person would have had the sense to call it quits. She didn't though, trusting herself to endure and endure she did. I had nightmares (seriously) while reading this book and had to avoid reading it before bedtime. I think I'm going to have to read some of her other adventures. And, in the epilogue, she mentions her DAILY ten mile runs! She was 50 years old when she made this journ ...more
Krista
While I was interested in this topic (first woman to trek solo to the Magnetic North Pole), I kept putting off reading the book. It looked kind of boring, actually. In reality, it was a page-turner, filled with harrowing adventures and amazing feats of endurance. In fact, the suspense may have been too much if I hadn't known from the start that she survived! A must-read for anyone who likes biographies/memoirs, and it's a special treat for dog-lovers, since she took along a Husky named Charlie t ...more
Samantha
The Heroic Saga of the first solo journey by a woman and her dog to the pole. Foreword by Sir Edmund Hillary. Includes 8 pages of photos. In 1988, Helen set off to do what no other woman had done- ski (alone) to the magnetic North Pole. At the last minute, she was persuaded to take Charlie, a black husky, with her. Little did she know that Charlie would save her life! An exciting read and easy to read too. My brother Wyatt and I really enjoyed this "adventure" together. :) Suitable for all ages. ...more
Ellen
I think this story was more interesting to me since I first heard the author speak and tell about this remarkable adventure. It is an inspirational tale to be sure. I had trouble understanding the drive to do what she did though, and feel she took unnecessary risks with her life. I guess that's what risk takers do. Still, you can't help but admire her determination and strength. A really story.
Josephine Ensign
Oh those hardy, intrepid Kiwi women! My favorite parts of this book are the descriptions of the polar bears, the ice formations, and Thayer's moments of introspection/questioning why she did things like trekking off to the North Pole at age 50, alone except for a husky named Charlie. The writing itself is a bit rough and I almost would have preferred a diary/journal entry format.
Kim
I have seen Thayer talk a few times and have huge admiration for her accomplishments. I enjoy reading about her journeys, but I didn't completely enjoy this book since she seems to give a day by day account rather than just highlighting the exciting parts. Her approaching to reporting probably gives a better sense of the expedition, but it gets repetitive and boring at times.
Deb
This is one of the best books I have ever read.... one I could barely stop reading in order to go to bed or work!

This woman, Helen Thayer, undertook a phenomenal adventure with a newly purchased Eskimo husky named Charlie. Charlie saved her life from polar bear attacks so many times I lost count.

If you enjoy true adventure stories, you MUST read this one!
Debora
Congratulations to this great woman and her amazing dog Charlie! An exciting adventure in polar and extreme conditions, where human force and energy are stronger than fears of bears and of being alone. A great exemple of friendship between a person an a dog. Don't give up your dreams: if she succeded in reaching North Pole, we can fulfill our desires too.
Dawn
A Journal account of a solo expedition to the magnetic North Pole by a 50 year old woman and her dog. I love travel/survival stories and this one had particular meaning due to my recent Birthday. Very intense reading due to the extreme nature of the trip and it also gave a glimpse into life at the North Pole....No Thanks but, I did enjoy reading about it.
Diana
A well told story of one woman's journey to the magnetic north pole on foot over more than 350 miles of forbidding, icy polar bear territory. While a compelling narrative, several of the life-threatening situations may prompt you to ask how important the trip itself was to risk her life in such a way. Still, the triumph is very satisfying. A good read.
Rex
Very interesting book about Helen Thayer, a 50-year-old woman, who treked to the North Pole with her Inuit dog Charlie. It is an outstanding tale about what she learned about herself and her dog as they faced polar bears, severe storms, and other life-threatening adversities. I am looking forward to reading other books authored by Thayer.
Lynn
Do you ever sometimes wonder how people can do such amazing things while you find it hard to balance of a simple, regular life? I certainly do! This is such an unbelievable story! I read this while I was training for the Breast Cancer 3 Day to inspire me to keep up with my training schedule. It did the trick! Wow!
Helene Slowik
Saga of woman's trek to the North Pole gives a good picture of the challenges of that type of trip - however some of the major challenges were due to her own poor decisions. Great that she focused on her goal, but why?
Sarah
I cannot understand this woman. I have no desire to pursue unsafe, crazy adventures. I have a lovely, comfortable home and a loving family. Bonkers. She annoys me almost as much as the guy from Into the Wild except she lives.
Read1000books
A great book chronicling the first woman to walk alone to the North Pole (not counting her canine companion). One element makes the account truly exciting: she is regularly accosted by hungry polar bears.
Sher
I really didn't think I'd like this book when I first picked it up, but I was wrong! It was addicting and I felt like I was on an adventure with the narrator, accomplishing something no other woman had.
Andrea
Loved it. I read this book throughout the night from midnight to 6am. Had my window cracked to a cold night....sensoround...I was there all night. Highly recommend to readers who love true adventure reads
Chris
A quick, well-written, dramatic read. Kind of like a sports movie where you know the underdog is going to come out on top, but you want to go through the emotional rollercoaster anyway.
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In 1988 New Zealand born Helen Thayer became the first woman to walk and ski to any of the world's poles when she trekked solo to the Magnetic North Pole without dog sled or snowmobile. She was the first woman and first American to circumnavigate the Magnetic North Pole. Her best-selling book Polar Dream tells the story of her historic adventure with her beloved companion Charlie, her protector fr ...more
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