Sir Vivian Fuchs, 91, the leader of the first expedition to cross Antarctica by land, died Nov. 11 at his home in Cambridge, England. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Sir Vivian, director of the British Antarctic Survey from 1958 to 1973, led the Commonwealth Transantarctic Expedition, completing the 99-day transit of the continent on March 2, 1958.
Sir Vivian, known to his friends as "Bunny," started polar research in Greenland as a student in 1929. He studied at Brighton College in Sussex and the University of Cambridge's St. John's College, from which he received master's and doctoral degrees.
He led teams into Africa in the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1947, he led the Falkland Islands Dependencies Service, which had been established to prevent the Germans from establishing radar bases in the South Atlantic and Antarctic. He transformed the service into a research and exploration body that was to become the British Antarctic Survey.
Sir Vivian was knighted in 1958 after leading the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which made the first surface crossing of the continent, covering 2,153 miles in 99 days, in 1957 and 1958.
He was assisted on the inaugural trek, which cost about $750,000, by Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer Mount Everest, and his New Zealand team.
Sir Vivian ran into trouble when the vehicle used by the team to traverse the snow and ice developed a tendency to sink. His adaptation gave rise to the Sno-Cat--a large, motorized tractor with maneuverable caterpillar "wheels."
He was said to be calm and confident in a crisis and once said: "Nothing is as bad as you think it is going to be."
Sir Vivian continued his career in the field of Antarctic exploration and science as director of the British Antarctic Survey from 1958 to 1973.
He maintained close ties with polar and scientific organizations after his retirement and saw the body he had created announce the discovery of the ozone hole.
He served as president of the International Glaciological Society and the Royal Geographical Society and wrote an autobiography, "A Time to Speak," in 1990.
His first wife died in 1990.
Survivors include his wife, Eleanor, of Cambridge; two children from his first marriage; five grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.