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Wally's luxury marathon camping trip

Don't miss Wally's Noose. Doug Davies exposes the mistakes Herbert put over on the unsuspecting public. Read the first book review written by someone who actually understands where Wally made mistakes or tried to fudge analysis. Want motive? We found his financial incentive, too! Want conspiracy? We found his Cook Society/Helene Vetters connection.

Wally's camping adventure pretended to emulate what Peary had done decades before he was born; kill bears, camp on the ice & repair sledges. Unlike Peary he had helicopters, airplanes, radios, generators, and luxury goods unknown in 1909.

wally herbert with whip and dead bear

Wally with dead bear.

Photos illustrate Herbert is unqualified to comment on Peary & Henson. His 1969 camping marathon had nothing in common with the skillful 1909 dash that first reached an axis of the earth.
Photos courtesy The British Trans-Arctic Expedition 1969, published in Across The Top of The World, Longman Group Ltd
English hypocrisy?

Or simply British laziness?

The British, and Herbert among them, ridicule Robert E. Peary for riding on his sledge as a passenger— just like Wally's team are doing in this photo.

Dogs straining as British passengers sit

british ride on the sledges like passengers as dogs strain to haul
(Above) Herbert's grossly overloaded sledges required 10 dogs to pull. They had to haul double the weight Peary's did. Herbert was on a luxury camping trip with tons of equipment. Peary was on a life or death dash to the Pole and back—something Herbert was incapable of attempting, emulating or accomplishing. In fact, he was no match for Peary's legendary Arctic logistics such as was demonstrated in 1909.

herbert overloaded his sledges and could not make distance as Peary had

british trans-arctic team used gas turbine powered helicopters where peary had to use a steam powered one

Bear shooting gunners blast away with high powered rifles to kill beast dead. Waist high overloaded 800 lb sledge of camping supplies
dogs strained to pull.
Did Peary & Henson
use a helicopter to reach the Pole?
Well, no matter.
Warm sledge repair tent—a British innovation Henson never had time for. Radio chat room in the pre-Internet days. No cold igloos for these brave British lads.

"If Peary was 'The Man Who Refused to Fail' then Wally Herbert was 'the man Britain could not afford to let fail' after polar failures such as Franklin, Scott, Shackelton, Mawson, etc."
(above) Editor's Note: Any British polar affair dredges up tearful memories of the terrible deaths that befell the Scott expedition. Which is why the Herbert camping adventure seems absurd when British royalty posture it as "...the greatest triumphs of human skill and endurance." Prince Philip's hyperbole attempts to elevate what many called a "polar stunt" to greatness it does not deserve.
Last British luxury marathon polar hunting & camping trip

Across the Top of the World: The Last Great Journey on Earth,  by Wally Herbert, ASIN: 0399100024
(right) Helicopter, along with military ships and planes moved Wally's dog sledge camping crew across the polar regions. Is this really "the greatest triumph of human skill and endurance?"

If this was "the greatest", then what was Peary's 1909 unsupported dash of 1,000 miles from land to the Pole and back without any radios or airplanes to rescue his team? Have Wally and Prince Philip reduced that unique expedition to merely the "second greatest"?

Or is the truth that we are witnessing a later day attempt to usurp polar honor (Brits spell it with a "u" as "honour") from America? The British contempt for Americans is often expressed as an air of superiority when they refer to Americans as "colonials." In this instance Herbert's book and the stunt that it documents have no place in polar exploration. This is purely the domain of the "Guinness Book of Records." Herbert is not in the domain of classic arctic history, not in the domain of arctic exploration, but squarely in the domain of a human ego aggrandizing itself.

Herbert apparently hated Peary back in 1968.
Is that why he had correspondence with tireless anti-Peary crusader Janet Vetters, the woman who founded the Cook Society?

It is interesting to read what I see as a deliberately negative portrayal of Peary in this work that preceded Noose of Laurels by 17 years. Herbert obviously sides with some unnamed "critics" who stated Peary was 60 miles short of the Pole (P.35). He references Peary's "incredible distances" as "physically impossible"(P.30). This proves that Herbert had already taken sides in something he actually knew nothing about. In point of fact, he was probably believing the writing of 1929 author Reverend Hayes - a classic, and totally inaccurate, "arm chair" expert. Note that Hayes, like other early Peary haters, were merely reiterating and trying to amplify the criticisms from Frederick Cook, but they had virtually nothing to work with - so this genre of writers would claim speeds and distances were impossible because Cook or others had said so. All of this speculation, in fact, has been disproved by skilled dog sledge handlers.

An equally suspicious mischaracterization in Herbert's book are his statements about Frederick Cook. He inaccurately describes Cook as having "...considerable fame as an explorer, a scientist...further increased his stature as an explorer by making the first ascent of Mount McKinley, the highest mountain on the American continent..."(P.28) (Note: Herbert mistakenly used "American continent" instead of "North American continent") But Herbert fails to note that Cook faked climbing McKinley. He additionally claims Cook was "a highly experienced polar explorer" - yet Cook had only been a seasonal volunteer on other men's expeditions. He had never even seen the Arctic Ocean, let alone tried to travel across it.

Cook was such a phony that in 1903 Robert Dunn, on the McKinley camping trip, wrote "This is a story of failure...(Cook) has the feat accomplished before starting. He will hear of no difficulties, and when his unreasonable dream of success balks, or turns out a nightmare, he is all weakness and dependence." So while Herbert offers the naive reader the possibility of Cook being capable of a North Pole expedition that impression is absolutely false. Herbert only does this to insult Peary with an illusion of Cook as a legitimate rival. This is very suspect and makes one wonder if Herbert can be trusted at all in his later work, Noose of Laurels.

Herbert then concludes, in a manner so biased it is insulting, that "Neither Peary nor Cook were able to produce conclusive proof of their attainment of the Pole.." Herbert obviously does not wish to dismiss the fraud Cook because he, in typical British fashion, can use Cook to make Peary look bad. The fact is that Cook only hoaxed going to the Pole. Peary really did go, but "some people", and Herbert is one of them, like to make the racist statement that when Peary left Bartlett and took "the Negro in his place" he (Peary) left behind his last reliable witness. This is obviously a highly offensive thing to say about Matthew Henson. Herbert is clearly just another "British Peary hater".

"Golly good camping trip little Wally! Loved the roasted walrus meat with brandy! Now you go write that book that will make people think Peary was a fraud, and the Queen will make you "Sir" Wally! How'd you like that?"

Wally couldn't tell "dash" from "dark". That was one of his mistakes. That is an error that, perhaps, a student would make but the professor would catch it. Herbert is not a qualified historian, only a money motivated private author.  Thus he had no professional peers to oversee his work. As a result he rushed a book into print that is based on his own uncorrected errors. Not errors of opinion mind you, but errors of demonstrable fact.

The following is from an email we received from Douglas R. Davies.

Many of the Bryce reviews
(Cook & Peary) bow down to Herbert. One refers to him as a navigational expert. He was not the navigator on his own trip and frankly admits he doesn't know anything about celestial navigation.

Herbert can be blasted on a couple of very broad, simple concepts before going into the details. First, he keeps harping on "proof" but his own 1968 book has a nice passage about how, when he (little Wally) got to the Pole, they took some pictures holding flags, because, "what other proof could we offer" or something like that.

Second, he is a conspiracy theorist. He is constantly looking for some ulterior motive. For example, and entire chapter on the 1906 farthest north is entitled "The first day of dark." This title comes from a typescript of Peary's diary (original lost). What does first day of dark mean, Wally wonders? The sun was continually above the horizon, so it cannot mean plain old dark. It must refer to some mood that came over Peary, because he knew he wasn't going to make the Pole, or even a farthest north, and would have to fake it. Buzzzzz. Wrong, Wally. It is a typo.

Anyone familiar with Peary's handwriting knows that he leaves the bottom of cursive s's open, so they look like cursive r's. Put a little curve in the last part of a letter h, and first day of dash becomes first day of dark. The diary starts on the first day of the final northward dash, after all supplies and all hope of re-supply was left behind due to a six day storm.

A huge British helicopter from the naval ship HMS (Her Majesty's Service) Endurance seen here giving Wally a lift. Estimated cost for helicopter rescue in arctic realms, if privately contracted, is around fifty thousand dollars.
Wally generously received 56,000 pounds of supplies air dropped to him. In addition to his broadcast station of radio gear they delivered a hut, a bath tub, gourmet food, audio music tapes and fresh dogs to haul all this stuff from camping spot to camping spot. A fabulous marathon camping stunt! Definitely a winner in some category of the Guinness Book of Records.

In 1989 a morbid book by failed Polar adventurer Wally Herbert claimed that Peary had missed the North Pole by about 60 miles.

But the author had no proof. Instead he concocted a pseudo-history novel in which I believe Herbert tried to project his own life's failures and shortcomings (he only stands 5 feet 2 inches tall) onto the legendary 6 foot tall, dashing Naval Officer and brilliant civil engineer Robert E. Peary. Little Herbert's dreary mass of innuendos might be viewed as an effort to make his candle burn a bit brighter by trying to blow out Peary's. He cast doubt on Peary's "sledging speeds" because Herbert himself had been an inappropriate traveler with grossly overloaded sledges.

Peary's travel methods have been duplicated by Paul Landry and Paul Crowley with their powerful dog teams. They attained the Pole April 13, 2000 at a speed unmatched since 1909. This is a remarkable event that makes fools of all the self-proclaimed experts who decided that it was so hard to reach the Pole that Peary could not have done it. Instead, the opposite is true. Adventurous men and women regularly walk to the Pole, ski, use snowmobiles, and occasionally dog teams which require the most expense and skill. All of this happened since Wally floundered about for 1 1/2 years on the ice. But no one is holding their breath for Herbert to apologize. Such people never have the integrity for that. Thankfully my copy of his work is library stamped "DISCARDED".

History Perversion
In the years after publication of Noose of Laurels experts worked to rectify the damage Herbert inflicted on American history. His research was so inaccurate it was a scandal.

Shamefully, Herbert lied when he stated, in Noose, that there was no reference in Peary's diary to having been to the North Pole. Yes, that was a lie. There are several references. Why would he do that?

Encyclopedia Britannica's unenlightened editorship will not correct its own Herbert misinformation-they don't know that Herbert's "ice drift theory" is wrong, Herbert's "impossible speed theory" wrong, etc. Hopefully, someday they will correct this.

Read the factual details in this Doug Davies review to learn the difference between an expert (Davies) and a "wannabe wealthy &  famous" writer (Herbert).

As one polar expert once told me "The people who have nothing better to do with their time write this anti-Peary crap, while those of us who know it is crap have better things to do with our time."

Russell R. Robinson

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