The Incredible Life Of Peter Freuchen…A Man Who Once Formed A Chisel Out Of His Own Frozen Feces To Free Himself From An Avalanche

January 24, 2018 | No Comments » | Topics: History, Interesting

The Age of Arctic Exploration remains largely excluded from the history books because, quite frankly, there’s nothing sexy about exploring uninhabited blocks of ice. Arctic explorers never received the glory they deserved, and never became household names or the subjects of movies and tv shows.

It’s a shame because after reading into it, I realized that these courageous, bearded men were often quite fascinating, especially one in particular. If anyone deserves a movie made about them, it’s Peter Freuchen.

The 6’ 6” Danish native originally fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a sailor, but later decided he’d rather use his skills to sail to the unexplored arctic than fish or transport cargo.

In 1910 he left Denmark, embarking on his first expedition of Greenland. He eventually founded and established the settlement of Thule in Northern Greenland, which is now a large U.S. Naval base. He remained at Thule and governed the new Danish colony until 1920.

During this time he lead several expeditions of the rest of Greenland. His most famous, the First Thule Expedition (1912), tested Robert Peary’s claim that a channel divided Peary Land and Greenland. Freuchen proved Peary incorrect with a dangerous and historic 620 mile dogsled trip across the inland ice.

Freuchen continued exploring, facing may near-death experiences. In one particular instance, our heroic explorer found himself trapped under a layer of solid ice, and claimed to have saved his life by chiseling his way out with a piece of his own frozen feces.

After he retired from exploring, he took up work in the film industry as a consultant and writer for Artic-related scripts. In 1933 he co-starred in MGM’s Oscar winning Eskimo, playing the ship captain.

As if it couldn’t get any better, Freuchen volunteered to work alongside the Danish Resistance during Word War II after his homeland was conquered and occupied by Nazi Germany. He was eventually captured and sentenced to death, but managed to escape a German prison camp by climbing over a barbed-wire fence, and fled to Sweden. Oh yea, and he did it with a peg leg, as he was forced to amputate his own left leg in 1926 due to frostbite.

After the war, Fruechen retired from dangerous things and moved to America, eventually rising to public fame. The Dane became a top selling author, writing dozens of fictional and nonfictional novel about his experiences in the arctic. His most famous work, Peter Freuchens Famous Book of the Eskimoshowed the modern world the ways of Eskimo culture, which was published after his death in 1965. Freuchen spent years living along side Inuit natives in Greenland and even married an Inuit woman, Navarana Mequpaluk, his first of three wives.

In 1956 the 70 year old ex-explorer was invited to be a contestant on the popular quiz show The $64,000 Question for the topic “The Seven Seas”, walking away with the $64,000 grand prize.

(Freuchen comes in around the 5:00 mark)


You’ll be shocked me to see that the man who so much resembled a polar bear was actually quite soft spoken, humbly admitting to have harpooned 20-30 whales in his day. After seeing the real man you’ll have no doubt that his famed but disputed “sh*t knife” story is indeed true.

He lived out the rest of his days in relative quiet (for him) and eventually passed away at the age of 71 in 1957, three days after completing his final book Book of the Seven Seas.

His ashes were scattered over Thule, Greenland, where his life as an adventurer began.

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