With that in mind, we'll just focus on what is possibly his most famous exploit: The Voyage of the Karluk. Bartlett was filling in as the captain of the Karluk Arctic expedition (the original captain left the party to go hunting, which was presumably a totally normal reason to abandon an expedition back then) when the boat got stuck in ice on August 13, 1913. They drifted helplessly westwards for months, until finally, in January of 1914 (nearly half a year later), the ice tore a hole in the side of the ship. As you may have guessed, this did not improve their situation.
However, Bartlett (who at this point in his career probably assumed every boat he stepped on was going to sink) had seen this coming. He'd already had his men climb out onto the ice to build igloos and fill them with necessary supplies. As the Karluk sank and everybody else abandoned ship, Bartlett stayed on board, playing dozens of musical records until the last possible moment. Finally, Bartlett played Chopin's "Funeral March" on the ship's turntable, then calmly stepped on the ice and watched the Karluk go under. We assume he did this in slow motion while his hype man showered him in dollar bills.
Smithsonian Institute via Flickr
Or seal blubber, or whatever it is Arctic explorers use as currency.
After living in the clustered batch of igloos that became known as "Shipwreck Camp" for a few months, Bartlett struck out with the remaining survivors to walk the 100 miles to Wrangel Island, with the hope of pressing on to Siberia for help. However, it turned out that most of the survivors were simply not as hardcore as Bartlett, and were too weak to continue once they reached Wrangel.
So Bartlett hopped on a motherfucking dog sled with an Alaskan Inuit named Kataktovik, and the two rode 700 goddamned miles over Arctic ice to get some help for the crew. When the two men reached East Cape on the Bering Strait, Bartlett's legs and feet were so swollen from exposure that he couldn't walk. He didn't let something like "potentially losing your limbs to frostbite" put him out of action for long, and as soon as he recovered, he hopped on a boat to go back to Wrangel Island and pick up the men he'd left behind ... only to discover that a Canadian ship, King and Winge, had beaten him to it.
Library and Archives Canada via CNN
"We waited as long as we could, but Dancing With The Stars was starting soon and we needed time to get pizza ..."
Still, the fact that he personally told the Arctic Circle to go fuck itself in order to save the lives of those depending on him earned him an almost legendary reputation as a master of Arctic navigation. To wit: a few years later, when the members of a Greenland expedition who had been stranded in the ice for four years finally spotted a rescue ship and the figure of a man standing at its helm, the leader of the party reflexively yelled out: "Is that you, Bob?"
Bartlett shouted back, "Of course! Who in hell do you think it is?"
Canada Post via Explore North
We're 95% sure he isn't wearing any pants in this picture.
Orrin can be found at sophomorecritic.blogspot.com and pacersnewbalance.blogspot.com. Nyameye has a blog, a Twitter and proof of extra-terrestrial life. We only made one of those up.
For more ridiculous badasses, check out 5 Nuns Who Could Kick Your Ass and 6 More Real-Life Soldiers Who Make Rambo Look Like a Pussy.
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