In a small valley, hardly two and a half miles from the ship’s anchorage, we therefore selected a place for our winter quarters. It was protected from the wind on all sides.
Continuing 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. The selection is presented in seven easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Discovery of the South Pole.
Originally we had planned to establish our station several miles from the edge of the Barrier, in order not to subject ourselves to the danger of an unwelcome and involuntary sea trip, which might have occurred had the part of the Barrier on which we erected our house broken off. This precaution, however, was not necessary, as the features which we observed on our first examination of the area offered a sufficient guaranty for the stability of the Barrier at this point.
In a small valley, hardly two and a half miles from the ship’s anchorage, we therefore selected a place for our winter quarters. It was protected from the wind on all sides. On the next day we began unloading the ship. We had brought with us material for house-building as well as equipment and provisions for nine men for several years. We divided into two groups, the ship’s group and the land group. The first was composed of the commander of the ship, Captain Nilsen, and the nine men who were to stay on board to take the Fram out of the ice and to Buenos Aires. The other group consisted of the men who were to occupy the winter quarters and march on to the south. The ship’s group had to unload everything from the ship upon the ice. There the land group took charge of the cargo and brought it to the building site. At first we were rather unaccustomed to work, as we had had little exercise on the long sea voyage. But before long we were all “broken in,” and then the transfer to the site of our home “Framheim” went on rapidly; the house grew daily.
When all the material had been landed our skilled carpenters, Olav Bjaaland and Jorgen Stubberud, began building the house. It was a ready-made house, which we had brought with us; nothing had to be done but to put together the various numbered parts. In order that the house might brave all storms, its bottom rested in an excavation four feet beneath the surface. On January 28th, fourteen days after our arrival, the house was completed, and all provisions had been landed. A gigantic task had been performed; everything seemed to point toward a propitious future. But no time was to be lost; we had to make use of every minute.
The land group had in the mean time been divided into two parties, one of which saw to it that the provisions and equipment still lacking were taken out of the ship. The other party was to prepare for an excursion toward the south which had in view the exploration of the immediate environs and the establishment of a depot.
On February 10th the latter group marched south. There were four of us with eighteen dogs and three sleds packed with provisions. That morning of our start is still vividly in my memory. The weather was calm, the sky hardly overcast. Before us lay the large, unlimited snow plain, behind us the Bay of Whales with its projecting ice capes and at its entrance our dear ship, the Fram. On board the flag was hoisted; it was the last greeting from our comrades of the ship. No one knew whether and when we should see each other again. In all probability our comrades would no longer be there when we returned; a year would probably elapse before we could meet again. One more glance backward, one more parting greeting and then — forward.
Our first advance on the Barrier was full of excitement and suspense. So many questions presented themselves: What will be the nature of the region we have to cross? How will the sleds behave? Will our equipment meet the requirements of the situation? Have we the proper hauling power? If we were to accomplish our object, everything had to be of the best. Our equipment was substantially different from that of our English competitors. We placed our whole trust on Eskimo dogs and skis, while the English, as a result of their own experience, had abandoned dogs as well as skis, but, on the other hand, were well equipped with motor-sleds and ponies.
We advanced rapidly on the smooth, white snow plain. On February 14th we reached 80° S. We had thus covered ninety-nine miles. We established a depot here mainly of 1,300 pounds of provisions which we intended to use on our main advance to the south in the spring. The return journey occupied two days; on the first we covered forty miles and on the second fifty-seven miles. When we reached our station the Fram had already left. The bay was lonely and deserted; only seals and penguins were in possession of the place.
The first excursion to the south, although brief, was of great importance to us. We now knew definitely that our equipment and our pulling power were eminently suited to the demands upon them. In their selection no mistake had been made. It was now for us to make use of everything to the best advantage.
Our sojourn at the station was only a short one. On February 22d we were ready again to carry supplies to a more southern depot. We intended to push this depot as far south as possible. On this occasion our expedition consisted of eight men, seven sleds, and forty-two dogs. Only the cook remained at “Framheim.”
On February 27th, we passed the depot which we had established at 80° S.; we found everything in the best of order. On March 4th we reached the eighty-first parallel and deposited there 1,150 pounds of provisions. Three men returned from here to the station while the five others continued toward the south and reached the eighty-second parallel on March 8th, depositing there 1,375 pounds of provisions. We then returned, and on March 22d were again at home. Before the winter began we made another excursion to the depot in 80° S., and added to our supplies there 2,400 pounds of fresh salt meat and 440 pounds of other provisions. On April 11th we returned from this excursion; this ended all of our work connected with the establishment of depots. Up to that date we had carried out 6,700 pounds of provisions and had distributed these in three repositories.
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