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stoker - Nansen/Fram North Pole attempt 1893-96
Amundsen/Fram - first successful expedition to reach the South Pole - 1910-11 Fram
Hjalmar Johansen was one of Norway's most famous gymnasts when he left Norway on the Fram with Nansen in 1893. He became Nansen's only companion in 1895, when they set out on foot from the Fram that was stuck (intentionally) in the Arctic sea ice attempting to reach the North Pole. Nansen and Johansen didn't manage the Pole but did record the farthest north record at that time.
The two over wintered on Franz Joseph Land in a hut made from stone and walrus skin.
On his return to Norway, Johansen was promoted to captain in the infantry, a role that seemed to be beyond him causing him to drink heavily and eventually leave the army. He overcame his drinking during a stay in Spitzbergen from 1907-09. Nansen requested that Amundsen took him on the South Pole expedition, a decision about which Amundsen had some reservations due to Johansen being prone to alcoholism.
At the time of the South Polar expedition, Johansen was an almost legendary figure. He was physically very strong, could drive a dog team, was an accomplished skier and knew how to survive in the ice.
Johansen was originally one of a party of eight chosen to set out for the South Pole from the winter quarters based around the ship Fram, known as Framheim. They set off initially on the 8th of September 1911 but were driven back in disarray by the intense cold so early in the season.
Johansen had argued with Amundsen over the timing of the attempt on the pole before they set out, saying that it was too early in the season. Their ignominious return and the fact that Johansen had to rescue one of the team from the possibly fatal effects of the cold meant that relations deteriorated further between the two men. Amundsen removed Johansen from the polar party and when they set out again towards the end of October, there were five rather than the previous eight.
Tragically the emotional blow of this event contributed to Johansen taking his own life in 1913, six months after returning to Oslo.
Landmarks named after Hjalmar Johansen
- This is a difficult area to research, I am concentrating on the Polar
experiences of the men involved. Any further information or pictures
visitors may have is gratefully received. Please email
- Paul Ward, webmaster.
What are the chances that my ancestor was an unsung part of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration?
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