Following Amundsen's footsteps
The Norwegian South Pole expedition arrived at Union Glacier in Antarctica safely on Oct. 28, after a week’s delay.
“They landed at Union Glacier at 3:45 p.m. Chilean time, or 8:45 p.m. Norwegian time after a four hour flight from Chile. The message is that the weather is fantastic at -28°C with almost no wind,” Martha Lundberg said.
Lundberg is a press officer for the largest of the Norwegian South Pole expeditions aiming to reach the South Pole on the 100th anniversary of Roald Amundsen’s flag planting December 14. The expedition with director Jan-Gunnar Winther, historian Harald Day Odie, Vegard Ulvang and adventurer Stein P. Aasheim has had to wait over a week in the Chilean city of Punta Arenas.
“We’ve said it many times, but we’ll say it again: Nobody can do anything about the weather in Antarctica. And we have been prepared for delays,” read the report from the group’s expedition diary.
The South Pole expedition has been undertaken in conjunction with the Nansen/Amundsen anniversary and marks the 100-year anniversary since Roald Amundsen reached the world’s southernmost point.
In principle, the expedition should take as long as Roald Amundsen’s took to reach the Pole, namely 57 days. The expedition was scheduled to reach the pole Dec. 14.
“The plan is to fly on to the starting place in the Bay of Whales,” said Lundberg. The team arrived at the Bay of Whales Oct. 31, a day later than planned.
“Right out by the barrier of ice where the Fram was, there are huge crevasses. We didn’t find it prudent to land there, but we got an overview of the historic area from the air,” wrote one of the expedition members. “Our starting point is about 40 km south of ‘Framheim’ and we can see the water from our camp. Now 1,311 km (815 miles) stand between us and the South Pole.”
“We still believe it is possible to reach the South Pole by the anniversary celebration December 14, but are aware that it will not happen without our full effort. We want to take Amundsen’s route. It is this trip – and communications around it – that we have planned and worked for for almost three years,” the participants wrote.
Despite the test in patience and the repeated disappointing delays, the participants comfort themselves with the fact that what they undergo now are trifles compared with what many others have experienced in the polar regions.
“Nansen had to spend the winter in Greenland when he missed the last boat to Europe in 1888. The second Fram expedition was an extra, involuntary winter when they could not come loose from the ice in 1901. And the later director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, Harald Ulrik Sverdrup, spent seven years on board the “Maud” from 1918 to 1925,” says Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø, on the organization’s blog.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 4, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.