How long will we have to wait for the young people of our time to find new ways, new solutions, and new paths through icy relations? Not new passages through icy waters, but ways to solve the more important problems: Poverty, economic inequalities, intolerance, religious strife, and so on? These are the frontiers to cross for the explorers and thinkers of our time - for you and me. A hundred years ago, the world was changing faster than today. That cannot be true, you may say. But take, for example, the socialist and communist ideologies and the Russian Revolution in 1917, the right to vote for everyone, including women and poor men. Finland was first country in Europe to introduce universal suffrage in 1907, Norway in 1913, and then followed the other Western European countries, one after the other. It was a time of great optimism. People believed in change and progress, and that almost anything was achievable. We should add, though, that the West still maintained its world dominance, including over the colonies and other overseas territories. Yet, the justification began to fade, notably the spread of Christianity, enlightenment, and the rule of law. People began to realise that the world hegemony was mostly based on economic and political considerations. But it took another 50 to 60 years for the colonies to gain independence, starting with the Indian Empire, the British crown colony, when, in 1947, India and Pakistan became independent states after a bloody struggle. The optimistic era of freedom continued and dozens of Asian, African, and Latin American countries gained independence, often after uprising and struggle, perhaps with some parallels to North Africa today. Another important part of the wind of change and optimism at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century was that explorers conquered the world. They were adventurers, dreamers, idealists and some of them, humanists, too. Although they often came from privileged backgrounds and had received excellent education, and they could have fitted into the establishment without much effort, they were in many ways a counterweight to the establishment. They wanted to do what no human being had done before them. The explorers and adventurers became the heroes of yesteryears, in the latter part of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. And even later, because no human being set foot on Mount Everest until 1953, when the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali, reached the summit on May 29th that year via the South Col Route. The news only reached the worlds capital in those days, notably London, on June 02, the day of Queen Elisabeth IIs coronation. When the expedition returned to Kathmandu, Edmund Hillary, and a Briton John Hunt, who on May 26th had reached a hundred meters short of the summit, had promptly been knighted in the Order of the British Empire - just underlining the importance paid to such events. Incidentally, Queen Elisabeth II is still on the thrown. There had been many earlier attempts to climb the worlds highest mountains, from George Mallorys first expeditions in 1921-22 and 1924. Many had perished in their effort to seek fame and a personal satisfaction of having done what nobody had done before them. Until this very day, the Himalayas have a special attraction to mountaineers, which is a backdrop, for example, to Greg Mortensons bestselling book Three Cups of Tea and his second one, Stones into Schools, both from the foothills of Pakistans mighty mountains. The author himself, an American who grew up in a missionary family at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africas highest mountain, fell in love with the people in Pakistans northern areas when they took him in, sick and disappointed, after his failed Himalayan expedition close to 20 years ago. His attempt to climb the mightiest mountain on earth, turned into realistic and practical work, notably his help in building some 150 schools, and counting, in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Another great explorer turned humanitarian was the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen, who became the United Nations predecessor, the League of Nations first High Commissioner for Refugees. He helped hundreds of thousands of refugees in Europe after the Russian Revolution and World War I, who were shuttled from country to country. He was also a Red Cross Commissioner dealing with Russian refugees of famine. He raised funds and created an identity card, known as the Nansen Passport for refugees. Dr Nansen, who was since 1896 professor of zoology and oceanography at the University of Oslo, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for his humanitarian aid work. From 1925, Nansen devoted much of his time to helping Armenian refugees. He argued their cause, but failed to receive the required funds and support from the League of Nations. Then, as now, the Armenians were troubled people. Nansen tendered his resignation as High Commissioner for Refugees, but the League declined to accept it. He played a key role in securing the adoption of a convention against forced labour in the colonial territories, and preparation for a disarmament conference, which was eventually held in 1932, but then Nansen chair was empty. He passed away in 1930. Before all this statesmanship and humanitarian work, though, Nansen was the great explorer of his time. In 1888, Nansen and his team had been the first to cross Greenland on skis, from east to west. The expedition travelled in the purpose-built ship Fram (Norwegian for forward). In 1893-96, he attempted to reach the North Pole, and reached latitude 86 degrees north, the farthest north that anyone had been at the time. Fram can today be seen at the Fram Ship Museum in Oslo. Nansen gave the ship to his countryman Roald Amundsen, who had actually planned to attempt to reach the North Pole, but then decided for his expedition to go south to the Antarctica. He became the first man ever to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911, five weeks before the British explorer Robert F. Scott and his team, but they perished on their return journey. Later, Amundsen attempted to reach the North Pole. Thus, it is disputed who it was who first reached the North Pole, with several pretenders. But these were just a few examples of great explorers, heroes and humanitarians, with Dr Fridtjof Nansen given more prominence in this article - and he is indeed a role model to this very day. Yet, there are many others, too. And there are many great explorations, also closer to our time. Take for example, the American space programme, and maybe even more advanced, that of the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. Those of us who were young at that time remember how exciting it was following the Sputniks, with the dog named Laika, which was sent on a space ship around the earth, alas, never to return. Those years gave us optimism and hope, and we felt we lived in historic times when borders could be crossed and maybe new bridges built. We thought we were able to achieve things that nobody else had achieved before us. What have we done to our world today? We are concerned about terrorism and closing the borders for migrants. We have created a global recession, affecting poor people more than others. We have created a more selfish world. Not a world of optimism and hope, which the explorers helped us to believe in. How long will we have to wait for the young people of our time to find new ways, new solutions, and new paths through icy relations? Not new passages through icy waters, but ways to solve the more important problems: Poverty, economic inequalities, intolerance, religious strife, and so on? These are the frontiers to cross for the explorers and thinkers of our time - for you and me. The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist based in Islamabad.