January 6, 2011

Friday, 6 January 1911


Ice in the Ross Sea. [1]

In one of the fasted passages to that date, the Fram came out into the open Ross Sea three and a half days after entering the ice pack. Thanks to her diesel motor, this was the first motor passage of the pack.

With characteristic respect for his predecessors, Amundsen wrote later of Sir James Ross, the first to reach the sea and ice shelf that now bear his name, "Few people of the present day are capable of rightly appreciating this heroic deed; this brilliant proof of human courage and energy. With two ponderous craft -- regular 'tubs' according to our ideas -- these men sailed right into the heart of the pack, which all previous polar explorers had regarded as certain death. It is not merely difficult to grasp this; it is simply impossible -- to us, who with a motion of the hand can set the screw going, and wriggle out of the first difficulty we encounter. These men were heroes -- heroes in the highest sense of the word." [2]

More immediately, he noted in his diary, "The swell is heavy and everything is familiar.... We are forging ahead under full sail and with the engine running as well, and doing 6-7 knots. If we carry on like this, the remaining 500 miles will soon be but a memory. We are all longing to start our work down there." [3]


[1] Wikimedia Commons.
[2] Roald Amundsen, The South Pole, ch.1.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, [6 January, 1911?], quoted by Roland Huntford in The Amundsen Photographs (London : Hodder & Stoughton, c1987), p.72-73.

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