Today’s installment concludes Discovery of the South Pole,
our selection from The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the “Fram,” 1910–1912 by Roald Amundsen published in 1912. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of seven thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Discovery of the South Pole.
During the night, as our watches showed it to be, three of our men went around the camp in a circle 10 geographical miles (11.6 statute miles) in diameter and erected cairns, while the other two men remained in the tent and made hourly astronomical observations of the sun. These gave 89° 55′ S. We might well have been satisfied with this result, but we had time to spare and the weather was fine. Why should we not try to make our observations at the Pole itself? On December 16th, therefore, we transported our tent the remaining 5-3/4 miles to the south and camped there. We arranged everything as comfortably as possible in order to make a round of observations during the twenty-four hours. The altitude was measured every hour by four men with the sextant and artificial horizon. These observations will be worked out at the University of Christiania. This tent camp served as the center of a circle which we drew with a radius of 5-1/6 miles [on the circumference of which] cairns were erected. A small tent, which we had brought with us in order to designate the South Pole, was put up here and the Norwegian flag with the pennant of the Fram was hoisted above it. This Norwegian home received the name of “Polheim.” According to the observed weather conditions, this tent may remain there for a long time. In it we left a letter addressed to His Majesty, King Haakon VII, in which we reported what we had done. The next person to come there will take the letter with him and see to its delivery. In addition, we left there several pieces of clothing, a sextant, an artificial horizon, and a hypsometer.
On December 17th we were ready to return. On our journey to the Pole we had covered 863 miles, according to the measurements of the odometer; our mean daily marches were therefore 15 miles. When we left the Pole we had three sleds and seventeen dogs. We now experienced the great satisfaction of being able to increase our daily rations, a measure which previous expeditions had not been able to carry out, as they were all forced to reduce their rations, and that at an early date. For the dogs, too, the rations were increased, and from time to time they received one of their comrades as additional food. The fresh meat revived the dogs and undoubtedly contributed to the good results of the expedition.
One last glance, one last adieu, we sent back to “Polheim.” Then we resumed our journey. We still see the flag; it still waves to us. Gradually it diminishes in size and finally entirely disappears from our sight. A last greeting to the Little Norway lying at the South Pole!
We left King Haakon VII Plateau, which lay there bathed in sunshine, as we had found it on our outward journey. The mean temperature during our sojourn there was — 13° Centigrade. It seemed, however, as though the weather was much milder.
I shall not tire you by a detailed description of our return, but shall limit myself to some of the interesting episodes.
The splendid weather with which we were favored on our return displayed to us the panorama of the mighty mountain range which is the continuation of the two ranges which unite in 86° S. The newly discovered range runs in a southeasterly direction and culminates in domes of an elevation of 10,000 to over 16,000 feet. In 88Â° S. this range disappears in the distance below the horizon. The whole complex of newly discovered mountain ranges, which may extend a distance of over 500 miles, has been named the Queen Maud Ranges.
We found all of our ten provision depots again. The provisions, of which we finally had a superabundance, were taken with us to the eightieth parallel and cached there. From the eighty-sixth parallel on we did not need to apportion our rations; every one could eat as much as he desired.
After an absence of ninety-nine days we reached our winter quarters, “Framheim,” on January 25th. We had, therefore, covered the journey of 864 miles in thirty-nine days, during which we did not allow ourselves any days of rest. Our mean daily march, therefore, amounted to 22.1 miles. At the end of our journey two of our sleds were in good condition and eleven dogs healthy and happy. Not once had we needed to help our dogs and to push the sleds ourselves.
Our provisions consisted of pemmican, biscuits, desiccated milk, and chocolate. We therefore did not have very much variety, but it was healthful and robust nourishment which built up the body, and it was, of course, just this that we needed. The best proof of this was that we felt well during the whole time and never had reason to complain of our food, a condition which has occurred so often on long sledge journeys and must be considered a sure indication of improper nourishment.
Simultaneously with our work on land, scientific observations were made on board the Fram by Captain Nilsen and his companions which probably stamp this expedition as the most valuable of all. The Fram made a voyage from Buenos Aires to the coast of Africa and back, covering a distance of 8,000 nautical miles, during which a series of oceanographical observations was made at no less than sixty stations. The total length of the Fram’s journey equaled twice the circumnavigation of the globe. The Fram has successfully braved dangerous voyages which made high demands upon her crew. The trip out of the ice region in the fall of 1911 was of an especially serious character. Her whole complement then comprised only ten men. Through night and fog, through storm and hurricane, through pack ice and between icebergs the Fram had to find her way. One may well say that this was an achievement that can be realized only by experienced and courageous sailors, a deed that honors the whole nation.
In conclusion, you will allow me to say that it was these same ten men, who on February 15, 1911, hoisted the flag of their country, the Norwegian flag, on a more southerly point of the earth than the crew of any other ship whose keel ever cleft the waves. This is a worthy record in our record century. Farthest north, farthest south did our dear old Fram penetrate.
This ends our series of passages on Discovery of the South Pole by Roald Amundsen from his book The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the “Fram,” 1910–1912 published in 1912. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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