Barbara Hillary, Trailblazing Explorer Who Became the 1st Black Woman to Reach North and South Poles, Dies at 88

Joe Akins
Nov 27, 2019
11:00 A.M.
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The beautiful and adventurous story of Barbara Hillary, who, during her lifetime, became the first Black woman to reach the North and South Poles, has come to an end after dying at the age of 88.


Barbara Hillary lived her life as an adventurer and created her own piece of history, doing what she did best. In 2007, and at the age of 75, Barbara reached the North Pole, and four years after that, she also reached the South Pole, both times being the first Black woman to do so.


Her death, which was announced on her Twitter page, brings an end to her legacy. The tweet read:

"Dear friends, Barbara Hillary has died. She was 88 and had suffered significant health decline in recent months. She lives on in history, in the hearts of those who loved her, and in the inspiration she gave so many. @northsouthpole #NorthPole #SouthPole #Mongolia #Explorer."


Barbara Hillary worked as a nurse for 55 years, and after her retirement, she decided that she wanted some adventure. Her foray into adventure saw her dog-sledding in Quebec and also taking photographs of polar bears in Manitoba.

It was within that period that she got to know that a Black woman had never been to the North Pole. She took up the challenge to be the first to achieve that feat, despite being in her 70s.


Apart from her age, Barbara didn’t have any funding, and was also 25% short of her breathing capacity, having undergone a lung surgery due to cancer. She also had to ski to accomplish her mission, something she had never done before.

Hillary overcame all the odds against her and reached both poles. There she saw firsthand the effects of climate change and began to lecture on the topic and also became a motivational speaker.

Deborah Bogosian, a friend to Hillary, told 1010 Wins Radio that the late adventurer's health had declined in recent months, but she always continued to dream big.

"There were still so many things she wanted to do."

May Barbara Hillary's soul rest in peace.

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