First Estonian to reach South Pole on skis recognized in state honors list

Tanel Tuuleveski at the South Pole.
Tanel Tuuleveski at the South Pole. Source: ERR

Mountaineer and polar traveler Tanel Tuuleveski was among the 114 people to be awarded state honors this year for his trek to Antarctica and he said it was a pleasure to have his achievements recognized.

Tuuleveski has been awarded The Order of the White Star, 5th Class by President Kersti Kaljulaid after he undertook a nearly 1,000-kilometer expedition to Antarctica last year. The 45-year-old was the first Estonian to reach the South Pole alone on skis.

Tuuleveski said on Tuesday to ERR he hadn't even thought about the medal yet: "This is such fresh news. Of course, it's a pleasure to be recognized."

His decoration is all the more significant given that Kaljulaid digitally signed the decoration decision on board the Admiral Bellingshausen sailing ship in Antarctica. 

Tanel Tuuleveski at the South Pole. Source: Pealtnägija/ERR

"It seems that since Kersti herself is in Antarctica right now, that's what helped," he said, wondering why he was among the recipients of her decoration.

Tuuleveski said it is difficult to say whether his long trip was worthy of recognition. "It's hard for me to judge. When it was done, it didn't seem like such a big deal. But before I went, it felt a lot bigger and more powerful," he admitted.

He said he had not yet celebrated the honor but said he will go to the president's reception on February 24.

He admitted the recognition was motivating when planning his next adventure, although he has no plans for an extreme trip at the moment. "I wanted to go to the Tartu Marathon, but I guess I will miss it this year," Tuuleveski told ERR

Tanel Tuuleveski at the South Pole. Source: Pealtnägija/ERR


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Editor: Helen Wright

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