February 11, 2007

Monday, 11 February 1907


Roald Amundsen and his crew aboard the Gjøa, upon arrival at Nome in 1906. In the back, from left, Godfred Hansen, Anton Lund, unknown, unknown; in front, Amundsen, Peder Ristvedt, Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm, Helmer Hanssen. Lindstrøm and Helmer Hanssen would later accompany Amundsen to the Antarctic. [1]

Amundsen lectured at the Royal Geographical Society in London, on his attainment of the Northwest Passage the year before. Admiral Sir Richard Vesey Hamilton said afterwards, "I do not think an Arctic expedition ever did so much with such small means.... I have had the experience of three Arctic winters and five Arctic summers, and I can say that nothing I have heard of surpasses the work of Captain Amundsen." [2]

Ernest Shackleton was also present at the lecture, having come to ask the support of the RGS for his planned expedition in the Nimrod to the Antarctic. [3]

At this time, and with a view towards achieving the North Pole, Amundsen asked Fridtjof Nansen if he could have the Fram, the ship that Nansen had commissioned for his exploration of the Arctic. Amundsen's plan was to repeat Nansen's 1893-1896 drift but to enter the Arctic ice pack further to the east, using wind and currents to reach a higher latitude than Nansen had, and thereby coming within range of a dash to the Pole with skis and dogs. Nansen, however, having long held a dream of being first at the South Pole, told Amundsen of his own plans for the Fram. [4]

The Fram was in fact State property, but such was Nansen's stature in Norway as not only an explorer but by now as a statesman and public figure that there was little question in Amundsen's mind who had the disposal of her.


[1] Britannica.com. The two unidentified men are probably Ole Foss and an American called Beauvais, picked up late in the expedition as extra hands; see Amundsen's The North West Passage, v.2, ch.11.
[2] Geographical Journal
, vol.XXIX, no.5, p.485, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.199.
[3] "Ernest H. Shackleton".
[4] In Roald Amundsen (Stroud, Gloucestershire : Sutton, c2006, c1995), Tor Bomann-Larsen says that in March of 1906, the men on the Gjøa, in the accumulation of newspapers they received in Alaska after the Northwest Passage, first read of Nansen's tentative plans for the South Pole.

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