November 16, 2011

Thursday, 16 November 1911


"Camp 12," wrote Scott. "Resting. A stiff little southerly breeze all day, dropping towards evening. The temperature -15°. Ponies pretty comfortable in rugs and behind good walls. We have reorganised the loads, taking on about 580 lbs. with the stronger ponies, 400 odd with the others." [1]

At Mount Betty. [2]

Amundsen took Bjaaland, Wisting, and Helmer Hanssen to reconnoitre the start of the climb. They went five and a half miles further south, 2,000 feet up. "We were extraordinarily lucky," Amundsen noted. "All crevasses filled. The going in the heights was splendid. Just enough loose snow for the dogs' paws, and a gradient not steeper than they can manage -- the first day, at any rate." [3]

After a quick ski run back down to the camp, Amundsen and Bjaaland decided to make a detour to a rocky knoll in order to feel the ground under their feet again, which they had not done since Madeira, fourteen months earlier. "Bjaaland prepared for an elegant 'Telemark swing,' and executed it in fine style," Amundsen wrote later. "What I prepared to do, I am still not quite sure. What I did was to roll over, and I did it with great effect. I was very soon on my feet again, and glanced at Bjaaland; whether he had seen my tumble, I am not certain. However, I pulled myself together after this unfortunate performance, and remarked casually that it is not so easy to forget what one has once learnt. No doubt he thought that I had managed the 'Telemark swing'; at any rate, he was polite enough to let me think so." [4]

Amundsen named the knoll Mount Betty, after his much-loved old nursemaid and housekeeper.

Matches from the cairn left by the Norwegians in 1911, and discovered by Byrd's geological party in 1929. [5]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 16 November, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition : the Journals, v.1.
[2] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 17 November, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.440.
[4] Roald Amundsen, The South Pole, ch.10.
[5] Object list, "Byrd's Flight to the South Pole", Ohio State University Libraries.

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