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FIDS / OAE's
Preparing for Winter - Chapter 7
The First Account |
- Fridtjof Nansen
I. The History of the South Pole |
II. Plan and Preparations
III. On the Way to the South |
IV. From Madeira to the Barrier
V. On the Barrier |
VI. Depot Journeys
VII. Preparing for Winter |
VIII. A Day at Framheim
IX. The End of the Winter |
X. The Start for the Pole
XI. Through the Mountains |
XII. At the Pole
XIII. The Return to Framheim |
XV. The Eastern Sledge Journey - Lieutenant
K. Prestrud |
XVI. The Voyage of the "Fram" - First-Lieutenant
|Summary of Amundsen's Antarctic Polar Journey|
Winter! I believe most people look upon winter as a time of storms, cold, and discomfort. They look forward to it with sadness, and bow before the inevitable -- Providence ordains it so. The prospect of a ball or two cheers them up a little, and makes the horizon somewhat brighter; but, all the same -- darkness and cold -- ugh, no! let us have summer, they say. What my comrades thought about the winter that was approaching I cannot say; for my part, I looked forward to it with pleasure. When I stood out there on the snow hill, and saw the light shining out of the kitchen window, there came over me an indescribable feeling of comfort and well-being. And the blacker and more stormy the winter night might be, the greater would be this feeling of well-being inside our snug little house. I see the reader's questioning look, and know what he will say: "But weren't you awfully afraid the Barrier would break off, and float you out to sea?" I will answer this question as frankly as possible. With one exception, we were all at this time of the opinion that the part of the Barrier on which the hut stood rested on land, so that any fear of a sea voyage was quite superfluous. As to the one who thought we were afloat, I think I can say very definitely that he was not afraid. I believe, as a matter of fact, that he gradually came round to the same view as the rest of us.
If a general is to win a battle, he must always be prepared. If his opponent makes a move, he must see that he is able to make a counter-move; everything must be planned in advance, and nothing unforeseen. We were in the same position; we had to consider beforehand what the future might bring, and make our arrangements accordingly while there was time. When the sun had left us, and the dark period had set in, it would be too late. What first of all claimed our attention and set our collective brain-machinery to work was the female sex. There was no peace for us even on the Barrier. What happened was that the entire feminine population -- eleven in number -- had thought fit to appear in a condition usually considered "interesting," but which, under the circumstances, we by no means regarded in that light. Our hands were indeed full enough without this. What was to be done? Great deliberation. Eleven maternity hospitals seemed rather a large order, but we knew by experience that they all required first aid. If we left several of them in the same place there would be a terrible scene, and it would end in their eating up each other's pups. For what had happened only a few days before? Kaisa, a big black-and-white bitch, had taken a three-months-old pup when no one was looking, and made a meal off it. When we arrived we saw the tip of its tail disappearing, so there was not much to be done. Now, it fortunately happened that one of the dog-tents became vacant, as Prestrud's team was divided among the other tents; as "forerunner," he had no use for dogs. Here, with a little contrivance, we could get two of them disposed of; a dividing wall could be put up. When first laying out the station, we had taken this side of life into consideration, and a "hospital" in the shape of a sixteen-man tent had been erected; but this was not nearly enough. We then had recourse to the material of which there is such superabundance in these parts of the earth-snow. We erected a splendid big snow-hut. Besides this, Lindström in his leisure hours had erected a little building, which was ready when we returned from the second depot journey. We had none of us asked what it was for, but now we knew Lindström's kind heart. With these arrangements at our disposal we were able to face the winter.
Camilla, the sly old fox, had taken things in time; she knew what it meant to bring up children in the dark, and, in truth, it was no pleasure. She had therefore made haste, and was ready as soon as the original "hospital" was prepared. She could now look forward to the future with calmness in the last rays of the disappearing sun; when darkness set in, her young ones would be able to look after themselves. Camilla, by the way, had her own views of bringing up her children. What there was about the hospital that she did not like I do not know, but it is certain that she preferred any other place. It was no rare thing to come across Camilla in a tearing gale and a temperature twenty below zero with one of her offspring in her mouth. She was going out to look for a new place. Meanwhile, the three others, who had to wait, were shrieking and howling. The places she chose were not, as a rule, such as we should connect with the idea of comfort; a case, for instance, standing on its side, and fully exposed to the wind, or behind a stack of planks, with a draught coming through that would have done credit to a factory chimney. But if she liked it, there was nothing to be said. If the family were left alone in such a place, she would spend some days there before moving on again. She never returned to the hospital voluntarily, but it was not a rare thing to see Johansen, who was guardian to the family, hauling off the lady and as many of her little ones as he could get hold of in a hurry. They then disappeared into the hospital with words of encouragement.
At the same time we introduced a new order of things with our dogs. Hitherto we had been obliged to keep them tied up on account of seal-hunting; otherwise they went off by themselves and ravaged. There were certain individuals who specially distinguished themselves in this way, like Wisting's Major. He was a born hunter, afraid of nothing. Then there was Hassel's Svarten; but a good point about him was that he went off alone, while the Major always had a whole staff with him. They usually came back with their faces all covered with blood. To put a stop to this sport we had been obliged to keep them fast; but now that the seals had left us, we could let them loose. Naturally the first use to which they put their liberty was fighting. In the course of time -- for reasons impossible to discover -- bitter feelings and hatred had arisen between certain of the dogs, and now they were offered an opportunity of deciding which was the stronger, and they seized upon it with avidity. But after a time their manners improved, and a regular fight became a rarity. There were, of course, a few who could never see each other without flying at one another's throats, like Lassesen and Hans, for instance; but we knew their ways, and could keep an eye on them. The dogs soon knew their respective tents, and their places in them. They were let loose as soon as we came out in the morning, and were chained up again in the evening when they were to be fed. They got so used to this that we never had much trouble; they all reported themselves cheerfully when we came in the evening to fasten them up, and every animal knew his own master and tent, and knew at once what was expected of him. With howls of delight the various dogs collected about their masters, and made for the tents in great jubilation. We kept up this arrangement the whole time. Their food consisted of seal's flesh and blubber one day, and dried fish the next; as a rule, both disappeared without any objection, though they certainly preferred the seal. Throughout the greater part of the winter we had carcasses of seals lying on the slope, and these were usually a centre of great interest. The spot might be regarded as the market-place of Framheim, and it was not always a peaceful one. The customers were many and the demand great, so that sometimes lively scenes took place. Our own store of seal's flesh was in the "meat-tent." About a hundred seals had been cut up and stacked there. As already mentioned, we built a wall of snow, two yards high, round this tent, as a protection against the dogs. Although they had as much to eat as they wanted, and although they knew they were not allowed to try to get in -- or possibly this prohibition was just the incentive -- they were always casting longing eyes in that direction, and the number of claw-marks in the wall spoke eloquently of what went on when we were not looking. Snuppesen, in particular, could not keep herself away from that wall, and she was extremely light and agile, so that she had the best chance. She never engaged in this sport by herself, but always enticed out her attendant cavaliers, Fix and Lasse; these, however, were less active, and had to be content with looking on. While she jumped inside the wall -- which she only succeeded in doing once or twice -- they ran round yelling. As soon as we heard their howls, we knew exactly what was happening, and one of us went out, armed with a stick. It required some cunning to catch her in the act, for as soon as one approached, her cavaliers stopped howling, and she understood that something was wrong. Her red fox's head could then be seen over the top, looking round. It need scarcely be said that she did not jump into the arms of the man with the stick, but, as a rule, he did not give up until he had caught and punished her. Fix and Lasse also had their turns; it was true they had done nothing wrong, but they might. They knew this, and watched Snuppesen's chastisement at a distance. The tent where we kept the dried fish stood always open; none of them attempted to take fish.
The sun continued its daily course, lower and lower. We did not see much of it after the return from the last depot journey; on April 11 it came, and vanished again at once. Easter came round on the Barrier, as in other parts of the globe, and had to be kept. Holidays with us were marked by eating a little more than usual; there was no other sign. We did not dress differently, nor did we introduce any other change. In the evening of a holiday we generally had a little gramophone, a glass of toddy, and a cigar; but we were careful with the gramophone. We knew we should soon get tired of it if we used it too often; therefore we only brought it out on rare occasions, but we enjoyed its music all the more when we heard it. When Easter was over, a sigh of relief escaped us all; these holidays are always tiring. They are tedious enough in places which have more amusements to offer than the Barrier, but here they were insufferably long.
Our manner of life was now completely in order, and everything worked easily and well. The chief work of the winter would be the perfecting of our outfit for the coming sledge journey to the South. Our object was to reach the Pole -- everything else was secondary. The meteorological observations were in full swing and arranged for the winter. Observations were made at 8 a.m., 2 p.m., and 8 p.m. We were so short-handed that I could not spare anyone for night duty, besides which, living as we did in a small space, it would have a disturbing effect if there were always someone moving about; there would never be any peace. My special aim was that everyone should be happy and comfortable, so that, when the spring came, we might all be fresh and well and eager to take up the final task. It was not my intention that we should spend the winter in idleness -- far from it. To be contented and well, a man must always be occupied. I therefore expected everyone to be busy during the hours that were set apart for work. At the end of the day each man was free to do what he pleased. We had also to keep some sort of order and tidiness, as well as circumstances permitted. It was therefore decided that each of us should take a week's duty as "orderly." This duty consisted in sweeping the floor every morning, emptying ash-trays, etc. To secure plenty of ventilation -- especially in our sleeping-places -- a rule was made that no one might have anything under his bunk except the boots he had in wear. Each man had two pegs to hang his clothes on, and this was sufficient for what he was wearing every day; all superfluous clothing was stuffed into our kit-bags and put out. In this way we succeeded in maintaining some sort of tidiness; in any case, the worst of the dirt was got rid of. Whether a fastidious housekeeper would have found everything in order is doubtful.
Everyone had his regular work. Prestrud, with the assistance of Johansen, looked after the astronomical observations and the pendulum observations. Hassel was set in authority over coal, wood, and paraffin; he was responsible for the supply lasting out. As manager of the Framheim coal and wood business, he, of course, received the title of Director, and this dignity might possibly have gone to his head if the occupation of errand-boy had not been combined with it. But it was. Besides receiving the orders, he had to deliver the goods, and he discharged his duties with distinction. He succeeded in hoodwinking his largest customer -- Lindström -- to such an extent that, in the course of the winter, he saved a good deal of coal. Hanssen had to keep the depot in order and bring in everything we required. Wisting had charge of the whole outfit, and was responsible that nothing was touched without permission. Bjaaland and Stubberud were to look after the pent-house and the passage round the hut. Lindström was occupied in the kitchen -- the hardest and most thankless work on an expedition like this. No one says anything so long as the food is good; but let the cook be unlucky and burn the soup one day, and he will hear something. Lindström had the excellent disposition of a man who is never put out; whatever people might say, it was "all the same" to him.
On April 19 we saw the sun for the last time, since it then went below our horizon -- the ridge to the north. It was intensely red, and surrounded by a sea of flame, which did not disappear altogether until the 21st. Now everything was well. As far as the hut was concerned, it could not be better; but the pent-house, which it was originally intended to use as a workroom, soon proved too small, dark, and cold, besides which all the traffic went through that room, so that work would be constantly interrupted or stopped altogether at times. Except this dark hole we had no workroom, and we had a lot of work to do. Of course, we might use our living-room, but then we should be in each other's way all day long; nor would it be a good plan to give up the only room where we could sometimes find peace and comfort to be a workshop. I know it is the usual custom to do so, but I have always found it a bad arrangement. Now, indeed, we were at our wits' end, but circumstances once more came to our aid. For we may just as well confess it: we had forgotten to bring out a tool which is a commonplace necessity on a Polar expedition -- namely, a snow-shovel. A well-equipped expedition, as ours was to a certain extent, ought to have at least twelve strong, thick iron spades. We had none. We had two remnants, but they did not help us very far. Fortunately, however, we had a very good, solid iron plate with us, and now Bjaaland stepped into the breach, and made a whole dozen of the very best spades. Stubberud managed the handles, and they might all have been turned out by a big factory. This circumstance had very important results for our future well-being, as will be seen. If we had had the shovels with us from the start, we should have cleared the snow away from our door every morning, like tidy people. But as we had none, the snow had increased daily before our door, and, before Bjaaland was ready with the spades, had formed a drift extending from the entrance along the western side of the house. This snow-drift, which was as big as the house itself, naturally caused some frowns, when one morning all hands turned out, armed with the new shovels, to make a clearance. As we stood there, afraid to begin, one of us -- it must have been Lindström, or Hanssen perhaps, or was it myself? well, it doesn't matter -- one of us had the bright idea of taking Nature in hand, and working with her instead of against her. The proposal was that we should dig out a carpenter's shop in the big snow-drift, and put it in direct communication with the hut. This was no sooner suggested than adopted unanimously. And now began a work of tunnelling which lasted a good while, for one excavation led to another, and we did not stop until we had a whole underground village -- probably one of the most interesting works ever executed round a Polar station. Let us begin with the morning when we thrust the first spade into the drift; it was Thursday, April 20. While three men went to work to dig right into the drift from the hut door westward, three more were busy connecting it with the hut. This was done by stretching boards -- the same that we had used on the Fram as a false deck for the dogs -- from the drift up to the roof of the pent-house. The open part between the drift and the pent-house on the northern side was filled up entirely into a solid wall, which went up to join the roof that had just been put on. The space between the pent-house and the drift on the south wall was left open as an exit. But now we had the building fever on us, and one ambitious project succeeded another. Thus we agreed to dig a passage the whole length of the drift, and terminate it by a large snow-hut, in which we were to have a vapour bath. That was something like a plan -- a vapour bath in 79°S. Hanssen, snow-hut builder by profession, went to work at it. He built it quite small and solid, and extended it downward, so that, when at last it was finished, it measured 12 feet from floor to roof. Here we should have plenty of room to fit up a vapour bath. Meanwhile the tunnellers were advancing; we could hear the sound of their pickaxes and spades coming nearer and nearer. This was too much for Hanssen. As he had now finished the hut, he set to work to dig his way to the others; and when he begins a thing, it does not take him very long. We could hear the two parties continually nearing each other. The excitement increases. Will they meet? Or are they digging side by side on different lines? The Simplon, Mont Cenis, and other engineering works, flashed through my brain. If they were going to hit it off, we must be -- hullo! I was interrupted in my studies by a glistening face, which was thrust through the wall just as I was going to dig my spade into it. It was Wisting, pioneer of the Framheim tunnel. He had good reason to be glad he escaped with his nose safe and sound. In another instant I should have had it on my spade. It was a fine sight, this long, white passage, ending in the high, shining dome. As we dug forward, we dug down at the same time so as not to weaken the roof. There was plenty to take down below; the Barrier was deep enough.
When this was finished, we began to work on the carpenter's shop. This had to be dug considerably deeper, as the drift was rounded off a little to the side. We therefore dug first into the drift, and then right down; as far as I remember, we went 6 feet down into the Barrier here. The shop was made roomy, with space enough for both carpenters and length enough for our sledges. The planing-bench was cut out in the wall and covered with boards. The workshop terminated at its western end in a little room, where the carpenters kept their smaller tools. A broad stairway, cut in the snow and covered with boards, led from the shop into the passage. As soon as the workshop was finished, the workmen moved in, and established themselves under the name of the Carpenters' Union. Here the whole sledging outfit for the Polar journey was remodelled. Opposite the carpenters came the smithy, dug to the same depth as the other; this was less used. On the other side of the smithy, nearer to the hut, a deep hole was dug to receive all the waste water from the kitchen. Between the Carpenters' Union and the entrance to the pent-house, opposite the ascent to the Barrier, we built a little room, which, properly speaking, deserves a very detailed explanation; but, for want of space, this must be deferred till later. The ascent to the Barrier, which had been left open while all these works were in progress, was now closed by a contrivance which is also worth mentioning. There are a great many people who apparently have never learnt to shut a door after them; where two or three are gathered together, you generally find at least one who suffers from this defect. How many would there be among us, who numbered nine? It is no use asking a victim of this complaint to shut the door after him; he is simply incapable of doing it. I was not yet well enough acquainted with my companions as regards the door-shutting question, and in order to be on the safe side we might just as well put up a self-closing door. This was done by Stubberud, by fixing the door-frame into the wall in an oblique position just like a cellar-door at home. Now the door could not stay open; it had to fall to. I was glad when I saw it finished; we were secured against an invasion of dogs. Four snow steps covered with boards led from the door down into the passage. In addition to all these new rooms, we had thus gained an extra protection for our house.
While this work was in progress, our instrument-maker had his hands full; the clockwork mechanism of the thermograph had gone wrong: the spindle was broken, I believe. This was particularly annoying, because this thermograph had been working so well in low temperatures. The other thermograph had evidently been constructed with a view to the tropics; at any rate, it would not go in the cold. Our instrument-maker has one method of dealing with all instruments -- almost without exception. He puts them in the oven, and stokes up the fire. This time it worked remarkably well, since it enabled him to ascertain beyond a doubt that the thing was useless. The thermograph would not work in the cold. Meanwhile he got it cleared of all the old oil that stuck to it everywhere, on wheels and pins, like fish-glue; then it was hung up to the kitchen ceiling. The temperature there may possibly revive it, and make it think it is in the tropics. In this way we shall have the temperature of the "galley" registered, and later on we shall probably be able to reckon up what we have had for dinner in the course of the week. Whether Professor Mohn will be overjoyed with this result is another question, which the instrument-maker and director did not care to go into. Besides these instruments we have a hygrograph -- we are well supplied; but this takes one of us out of doors once in the twenty-four hours. Lindström has cleaned it and oiled it and set it going. In spite of this, at three in the morning it comes to a stop. But I have never seen Lindström beaten yet. After many consultations he was given the task of trying to construct a thermograph out of the hygrograph and the disabled thermograph; this was just the job for him. The production he showed me a few hours later made my hair stand on end. What would Steen say? Do you know what it was? Well, it was an old meat-tin circulating inside the thermograph case. Heavens! what an insult to the self-registering meteorological instruments! I was thunderstruck, thinking, of course, that the man was making a fool of me. I had carefully studied his face all the time to find the key to this riddle, and did not know whether to laugh or weep. Lindström's face was certainly serious enough; if it afforded a measure of the situation, I believe tears would have been appropriate. But when my eye fell upon the thermograph and read, "Stavanger Preserving Co.'s finest rissoles," I could contain myself no longer. The comical side of it was too much for me, and I burst into a fit of laughter. When my laughter was subdued, I heard the explanation. The cylinder did not fit, so he had tried the tin, and it went splendidly. The rissole-thermograph worked very well as far as -40° C., but then it gave up.
Our forces were now divided into two working parties. One of them was to dig out some forty seals we had lying about 3 feet under the snow; this took two days. The heavy seals' carcasses, hard as flint, were difficult to deal with. The dogs were greatly interested in these proceedings. Each carcass, on being raised to the surface, was carefully inspected; they were piled up in two heaps, and would provide food enough for the dogs for the whole winter. Meanwhile the other party were at work under Hassel's direction on a petroleum cellar. The barrels which had been laid up at the beginning of February were now deep below the snow. They now dug down at both ends of the store, and made a passage below the surface along the barrels; at the same time they dug far enough into the Barrier to give the requisite height for the barrels. When the snow had been thrown out, one hole was walled up again, while a large entrance was constructed over the other. Stubberud's knowledge of vaulting came in useful here, and he has the credit of having built the splendid arched entrance to the oil-store. It was a pleasure to go down into it; probably no one has had so fine a storehouse for petroleum before. But Hassel did not stop here; he had the building fever on him in earnest. His great project of connecting the coal and wood store with the house below the surface nearly took my breath away; it seemed to me an almost superhuman labour, but they did it. The distance from the coal-tent to the house was about ten yards. Here Hassel and Stubberud laid out their line so that it would strike the passage round the house at the south-east angle. When they had done this, they dug a gigantic hole down into the Barrier half-way between the tent and the house, and then dug in both directions from here and soon finished the work. But now Prestrud had an idea. While the hole remained open he wished to avail himself of the opportunity of arranging an observatory for his pendulum apparatus, and he made a very good one. He did it by digging at right angles to the passage, and had his little observatory between the coal-tent and the house. When all the snow was cleared out, the big hole was covered over again, and now we could go from the kitchen direct to the coal-store without going out. First we followed the passage round the house -- you remember where all the tinned provisions stood in such perfect order -- then, on reaching the south-east angle of the house, this new passage opened out and led across to the coal-tent. In the middle of the passage, on the right-hand side, a door led into the pendulum observatory. Continuing along the passage, one came first to some steps leading down, and then the passage ended in a steep flight of steps which led up through a hole in the snow surface. On going up this one suddenly found oneself in the middle of the coal-tent. It was a fine piece of work, and did all honour to its designers. It paid, too -- Hassel could now fetch coal at any time under cover, and escaped having to go out of doors.
But this was not the end of our great underground works. We wanted a room where Wisting could store all the things in his charge; he was specially anxious about the reindeer-skin clothing, and wished to have it under a roof. We therefore decided upon a room sufficiently large to house all these articles, and at the same time to provide working-space for Wisting and Hanssen, who would have to lash all the sledges as fast as they came from Bjaaland. Wisting elected to build this room in a big snow-drift that had formed around the tent in which he had kept all his stuff; the spot lay to the north-east of the house. The Clothing Store, as this building was called, was fairly large, and provided space not only for all our equipment, but also for a workshop. From it a door led into a very small room, where Wisting set up his sewing-machine and worked on it all through the winter. Continuing in a north-easterly direction, we came to another big room, called the Crystal Palace, in which all the ski and sledging cases were stored. Here all the provisions for the sledge journey were packed. For the time being this room remained separate from the others, and we had to go out of doors to reach it. Later, when Lindström had dug out an enormous hole in the Barrier at the spot where he took all the snow and ice for cooking, we connected this with the two rooms last mentioned, and were thus finally able to go everywhere under the snow.
The astronomical observatory had also arisen; it lay right alongside the Crystal Palace. But it had an air of suffering from debility, and before very long it passed peacefully away. Prestrud afterwards invented many patents; he used an empty barrel for a time as a pedestal, then an old block of wood. His experience of instrument-stands is manifold.
All these undertakings were finished at the beginning of May. One last piece of work remained, and then at last we should be ready. This was the rebuilding of the depot. The small heaps in which the cases were piled proved unsatisfactory, as the passages between the different piles offered a fine site for snow-drifts. All the cases were now taken out and laid in two long rows, with sufficient intervals between them to prevent their offering resistance to the drifting snow. This work was carried out in two days.
The days were now fairly short, and we were ready to take up our indoor work. The winter duties were assigned as follows: Prestrud, scientific observations; Johansen, packing of sledging provisions; Hassel had to keep Lindström supplied with coal, wood, and paraffin, and to make whip-lashes -- an occupation he was very familiar with from the Fram's second expedition; Stubberud was to reduce the weight of the sledge cases to a minimum, besides doing a lot of other things. There was nothing he could not turn his hand to, so the programme of his winter work was left rather vague. I knew he would manage a great deal more than the sledge cases, though it must be said that it was a tiresome job he had. Bjaaland was allotted the task which we all regarded with intense interest -- the alteration of the sledges. We knew that an enormous amount of weight could be saved, but how much? Hanssen and Wisting had to lash together the different parts as they were finished; this was to be done in the Clothing Store. These two had also a number of other things on their programme for the winter.
There are many who think that a Polar expedition is synonymous with idleness. I wish I had had a few adherents of this belief at Framheim that winter; they would have gone away with a different opinion. Not that the hours of work were excessively long, the circumstances forbade that. But during those hours the work was brisk.
On several previous sledge journeys I had made the experience that thermometers are very fragile things. It often happens that at the beginning of a journey one breaks all one's thermometers, and is left without any means of determining the temperature. If in such circumstances one had accustomed oneself to guess the temperature, it would have given the mean temperature for the month with a fair degree of accuracy. The guesses for single days might vary somewhat from reality on one side or the other, but, as I say, one would arrive at a fair estimate of the mean temperature. With this in my mind I started a guessing competition. As each man came in in the morning he gave his opinion of the temperature of the day, and this was entered in a book. At the end of the month the figures were gone through, and the one who had guessed correctly the greatest number of times won the prize -- a few cigars. Besides giving practice in guessing the temperature, it was a very good diversion to begin the day with. When one day is almost exactly like another, as it was with us, the first hour of the morning is often apt to be a little sour, especially before one has had one's cup of coffee. I may say at once that this morning grumpiness very seldom showed itself with us. But one never knows -- one cannot always be sure. The most amiable man may often give one a surprise before the coffee has had its effect. In this respect the guessing was an excellent thing; it took up everyone's attention, and diverted the critical moments. Each man's entrance was awaited with excitement, and one man was not allowed to make his guess in the hearing of the next -- that would undoubtedly have exercised an influence. Therefore they had to speak as they came in, one by one.
"Now, Stubberud, what's the temperature to-day ?" Stubberud had his own way of calculating, which I never succeeded in getting at. One day, for instance, he looked about him and studied the various faces.
"It isn't warm to-day," he said at last, with a great deal of conviction. I could immediately console him with the assurance that he had guessed right. It was -69°F. The monthly results were very interesting. So far as I remember, the best performance the competition could show in any month was eight approximately correct guesses. A man might keep remarkably close to the actual temperature for a long time, and then suddenly one day make an error of 25°. It proved that the winner's mean temperature agreed within a few tenths of a degree with the actual mean temperature of the month, and if one took the mean of all the competitors' mean temperatures, it gave a result which, practically speaking, agreed with the reality. It was especially with this object in view that this guessing was instituted. If later on we should be so unlucky as to lose all our thermometers, we should not be entirely at a loss. It may be convenient to mention here that on the southern sledge journey we had four thermometers with us. Observations were taken three times daily, and all four were brought home in undamaged condition. Wisting had charge of this scientific branch, and I think the feat he achieved in not breaking any thermometers is unparalleled.
VIII. A Day at Framheim
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