Reading period: Jul–Oct 2017.

Plot

Schedule

  • Dec 15, 1911, first polar station
  • Jan 30, 1912, last farewell to the Barrier

Topics

Food and drinks

  • pemmican – dried meat with fat as fundamental meal
    • considers varied menu whimsical
    • survived transport through the tropics
  • tobacco and cigars were still popular
  • coffee
  • seals (steaks, soup)
  • pinguins
  • later he also mentions bread (on South Pole?)

Equipment

  • sledge-meter
  • gramophone (only for rare occassions, they have little plates)
  • snow-shovel – they forgot to bring it
  • thermograph (not working well under -40°C)
  • optimized sledges (163 pounds down to 53 pounds)
  • double bags, calf and reindeer sking, 13 pounds (the outer one)
  • leather goggles (with slits)
  • seven pairs of stockings (weared at once)
  • cinematograph
  • compasses (and aluminium fittings on sledge carrying that)
  • aneroid, barometers
  • crampons (left behind after climbing to plateau)
  • skis
  • three sledges for final (plateau) trip
  • Fram
    • designed to carry fuel, provisions and equipment for 5(!) years
      • but paper and ink for 7 years :-)
    • 420 BRT, out of that 90 tons of oil

Dogs

  • dogs eat dogs
  • bite-marks from dogs
  • devouring leather bindings
  • some were lost and some returned back
  • Else (had 8 puppies)
  • Adam and Lazarus (got lost)
  • Lassesen (Amundsen’ favorite, first killed on homeward journey, worn out), Fuchs and Uranus (tired early), Sara (died without symptoms), Lucy (lost), Helge (tired, drag to others), Major (left at 88° and never returned), Svartflekken (killed as reprobate), Frithjof (killed at one of camps during return), Nigger (didn’t survie descent) Snuppesen (gave birth to 8 pups)
  • plan: 42 up the plateau, 24 slaughter, 18 continuing (6 per sledge)

the thought of the fresh dog cutlets that awaited us when we got to the top made our mouths water.

  • returned with 11 dogs and two sledges
  • 29th, first dog shot (80°45’)
  • Dec 19, first dog killed on homeward journey (worn out)
  • 500 g/day of pemmican (still they were greedy)
  • worries that astray dogs ate their depots
  • interestingly the decided to save on of Argentinian pigs

Misc

  • Christiania
    • product placement for companies that paid?
  • no physician
    • no tooth fixing, just extraction
  • fighting procrastination by having proper equipment (comfortable, warm)
  • NDA
    • lieutnants knew real course
  • morning routine took them up to 4 hour
  • steam bath
  • dead reckoning (depots)
    • also South Pole due to bad weather and concerns about primary claims
  • cross-country skiing + sledging
  • 37 km/day (in the beginning) @ 7.5 km/h
  • crevasses
  • hard breathing at 8000 feet above sea level (their measurement)
    • turning around in sleeping bag
  • singularity in polar conditions
    • they still talked about noon, assuming their meridian
  • marking everything with “South Pole” to serve as souvenirs later
  • leaving Polheim
    • what would be my thoughts at such a moment? if this is the pole , how many peope will come after us? what if we missed the pole ?
  • daily schedule on way back
    • “we were to do our fifteen geographical miles, or twenty-eight kilometres, and then have a sleep of six hours, turn out again and do fifteen miles more, and so on.”
  • depot logistcs
    • large depot at 80°
  • there was much to do in Framheim during winter (sewing (tents, adjustments), woodworks (sledges), maintenance)
  • two years without any news (imagine that today, cablegrams)
  • no easy navigation (maps weren’t complete)
  • the other party was supposed to “carry out what exploration time and circumstances might permit” in King Edwards land
  • temperature close to freezing point are worse because tent floors are wet
    • the temperatures ranged from -50°C to ~0°C
    • rain never, sleet once
    • snowfall never in still wind
  • Japanese doing research (whaling?)
  • ex-post report recalculates that: “(first polar) station lies between lat. 89º 52’ and 89º 56’ S., and between long. 90º and 120º E.”
  • probable position of Polheim may be given roughly as lat. 89º 58.5’ S., and long. 60º E.

Characters

Roald Amundsen

  • likes tidiness
    • work efficiency
    • against demoralization and depression
    • sensitive to door shutting
  • systematic
    • sorted and oriented cases with equimpent (“all the numers face the north”)
    • records of contents of cases with provisions
    • counting 6000 biscuits
  • merciless
    • unsuccessful engineer was discharged (and they hired man directly from engine manufacturer)
    • killing female puppies
    • killing seals in great scale
      • easy due to lack of natural enemies (his observation)
    • killing weak/exhausted/spent dogs
  • relationships with dogs
    • Lassesen (his favorite)
  • competitive (with Scott)
  • opposed to alcohol on trip
    • but “prohibition is not an easy thing to put into practice”
  • importance of preparation
    • testing gears in advance on shorter trips
  • hardworking
    • and importance of that for satisfaction
    • also importance of rest and comfort (both time-wise and space-wise (e.g. bedroom for sleeping only, no shop))
  • poking fun of himself
  • looser (targetted the North Pole and ended up in the South)
  • project manager
    • “Well, with men like these I don’t think Amundsen will deserve any credit for reaching the Pole. He ought to be thrashed if he doesn’t.”
    • “the only way in which one can expect work to be properly and carefully carried out is to have it done by the very men who are to use the things.”
    • “Some people give one the impression of being able to make anything, and to get it done in no time – others not.”

Language & style

Animals aren’t humans and humans are carnivores:

…big Emperor penguin, making bow after bow. It gave exactly the impression of having come up simply to pay us its respects. We were sorry to repay its attention so poorly, but such is the way of the world. With a final bow it ended its days in the frying-pan.

came a crab-eater, shining like silver in the sun. He came right up, was photographed, and – shot.

“An Emperor penguin just come on a visit – soup-kettle.” He did not get a very long epitaph.

Environment reference

as they say, you never know what the day is like before sunset.

Bitterness

the pleasure of standing out there in rather light attire had not exactly put warmth into our bodies.

Joking (on the vessel during sail)

first, I came by and told him that it was blowing a hurricane if he cared to see what it looked like. ‘Oh, yes,’ he said, ‘I could guess it was blowing, for the galley fire has never drawn so well;

  • they employed bitches
  • intermezzo with a 3rd person visiting the hut