June 20, 2011

Tuesday, 20 June 1911


Bjaaland planing sledge runners in his workshop dug under the snow at Framheim, June or July, 1911. [1]

After experiencing the Barrier for himself, Amundsen realised that at 75 kilos (165 lbs.) their sledges were too heavy, and had run badly anyway. Prepared for difficult and treacherous ice by Scott's and Shackleton's earlier accounts, Amundsen had got his sledges from Hagen's in Christiania, the same models that Scott was using. But after their depot journeys, Amundsen found that "the mysterious Barrier of the Englishmen has once and for all disappeared, and must give place to a completely natural phenomenon -- a glacier." [2]

Bjaaland reworked four sledges they had from Sverdrup's second Fram expedition, as well as making three new sledges. Sverdrup's he planed down and lightened; these would be for the difficult ice on the glaciers leading to the Polar plateau. Once there, these sledges would be depoted and Bjaaland's own lightweight ones, built for speed on level snow, would take them the rest of the way.

"Today, Bjaaland finished the first new sledge," Amundsen wrote with satisfaction. "It is extremely fine to look at, and is particularly light -- 24 kilos [53 lbs.]-- against 34 kilos [the 75 lbs. of the rebuilt Sverdrup sledges]." [3]


Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[2] Roald Amundsen, diary, 11 July, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.382.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 22 June, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in The Amundsen Photographs, (London : Hodder & Stoughton, c1987), p.112.

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