Once we were Vikings. But to be honest, it is hard to categorize these barbarians who killed, slaughtered and robbed wherever they set foot, as heroes in the meaning of achieving something great. What about Leiv Eiriksson? The guy who discovered Northern America way before Christopher Columbus came stumbling upon the same continent some 490 years later. Yes, he qualifies. Agreed. But who else could we call a hero?
We do have Henrik Ibsen, the world famous writer. And yes, we do have Edvard Munch, world-famous artist. But they were hardly keen skiers or ambassadors of outdoor living.
After the great adventures of Leiv Eirikson came The Dark Ages. For centuries Norway fell under Danish – and Swedish – government and we were peasants bullied by our neighbours for centuries.
But then, in the late 19th century as the Danes and Swedes were giving up on us giving Norway sovereignty, was suddenly our time to shine. A time for individuals who dared set foot where no others have set foot, to fight the power of nature – in the quest for that ultimate experience. It was a time of Arctic explorers, and with them, we saw the beginning of Norway’s rise as a nation of skiers and ambassadors of outdoor living, which a hundred years later we like to define as part of our DNA: The love of nature and the constant longing to be out there.
So these are among our heroes: Explorer Fridtjof Nansen, Explorer Roald Amundsen, Her Royal Highness Queen Sonja, Climber and philosopher Arne Næss, Climber Odd Eliassen, The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), and the legendary climber Therese Bertheau.