From Shackleton to Everest: how expeditions have celebrated Christmas in extreme places

Vintage photos show how explorers — from poles to the world's highest mountains — have paused to celebrate the holidays.

By National Geographic Staff
Published 27 Dec 2018, 08:51 GMT, Updated 17 Dec 2021, 19:55 GMT

“What kind of bonehead would rather spend Christmas freezing his butt on the side of a (expletive) rock instead of being home with his wife and little girl?” Mike Graber asked, while climbing in Queen Maud Land with Alex Lowe and Conrad Anker in 1996. Graber, Lowe, and Anker’s first ascent of Ravekniven in Antartica was part of a long tradition of celebrating the holidays while on expedition. From Ernest Shackleton to the Trans-Asian motor expeditions of the 1930s to modern-day winter mountaineers, explorers have found ways to commemorate Christmas. These archival photos show how many have observed the holidays despite the remote and often harsh places they found themselves.

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