January 25, 2012

Thursday, 25 January 1912


"Thank God we found our Half Degree Depôt," Scott wrote with obvious relief. [1]

"Oates suffers from a very cold foot; Evans' fingers and nose are in a bad state, and to-night Wilson is suffering tortures from his eyes. Bowers and I are the only members of the party without troubles just at present. The weather still looks unsettled, and I fear a succession of blizzards at this time of year; the wind is strong from the south, and this afternoon has been very helpful with the full sail. Needless to say I shall sleep much better with our provision bag full again. The only real anxiety now is the finding of the Three Degree Depot. The tracks seem as good as ever so far, sometimes for 30 or 40 yards we lose them under drifts, but then they reappear quite clearly raised above the surface. If the light is good there is not the least difficulty in following. Blizzards are our bugbear, not only stopping our marches, but the cold damp air takes it out of us. Bowers got another rating sight to-night—it was wonderful how he managed to observe in such a horribly cold wind. He has been on ski to-day whilst Wilson walked by the sledge or pulled ahead of it."


Framheim, in an undated photograph. [2]

When they had set off at ten in the evening the night before, the weather, Amundsen wrote, was still "of the most unpleasant kind. Calm with thick snowfall and drift so that one could not see more than the tips of one's skis." [3] They lost the marked track, and when the weather cleared after an hour or so, there was not a flag in sight. Amundsen ordered a compass course.

"After 8 miles march, a large, dark object hove into sight -- 2 points off our course -- to the west. We struck out for it. It turned out to be one of our sledges, which we had left at the start on the 20th October 1911. Before we knew it, we had reached our point of departure. We saw nothing of Fram, but that was hardly to be wondered at because the whole inner part of the bay was covered with ice. Framheim, on the other hand, lay, as we had left it, bathed in the morning sun."

It was four o'clock in the morning, and the five men unhitched the dogs as quietly as they could and crept into the hut. "Good morning, my dear Lindstrøm," Amundsen said. "Have you any coffee for us?"

Wisting, who described this scene years later, said "It would be very difficult for me to describe the various phizzes that emerged from their respective bunks and stared at us -- they had to be seen." [4]

"Good God, is it you?" was all that Lindstrøm could say at first, for the polar party had not been expected for another ten days. "Get up boys," he called out to the others, "it's the first cuckoo of spring."

"Roald came up to me, and shook my hand," Stubberud recalled, "I didn't ask about anything." [5] Somebody, Wisting wrote, finally put the question: "'Have you been there?' 'Yes, we've been there,' answered Roald Amundsen, and then there was a hullabaloo. Soon after, we were all seated round the table and savoured Lindstrøm's hot cakes and heavenly coffee. How good a cup of coffee can really taste one only realises when, like us, one has had to go without so long." [6] (For three months, the polar party had had nothing but hot chocolate.)

Hanssen wrote later, "The gathering round the breakfast table at Framheim after the end of the trip belongs to the moments in one's life one never forgets." [7]

After a short speech from Amundsen -- "We haven't got much to tell in the way of privation. The whole thing went like a dream" -- they finished off, Bjaaland said, "[with] a really good schnapps." [8]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 25 January, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1. This was the depot made at 88° 29' on 10th January.
[2] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 26 January 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (London : Continuum, c2010), p.261.
[4] Oscar Wisting, 16 År med Roald Amundsen, p.38, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.526.
[5] Jørgen Stubberud, interview with Roland Huntford, quoted by Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.526.
[6] Oscar Wisting, 16 År med Roald Amundsen, p.29, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.526.
[7] Helmer Hanssen, Gjennem Isbaksen, p.101, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.526.
[8] Olav Bjaaland, source not given, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.527.

1 comment:

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