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Roald Amundsen
Pictures from the South Polar Expedition 1911

Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the leader of the first team to successfully reach the South Pole. Famously arriving five weeks before Scott and his party. Amundsen used dog sleds, his party was well organised and well prepared with the only intention being to reach the pole, rather than any other exploration or discovery.


The Fram under sail

The Fram under sail

The Fram was lent to Amundsen by Fritjof Nansen for his attempt on the South Pole (originally to be the North Pole). Prior to the Titanic it was the most famous ship in the world, built specifically for polar exploration and designed to ride up in ice pressure rather than be crushed by it.

Dog dance on the Fram

In the absence of lady partners, Ronne takes a turn with the dogs

On board the Fram on the way south


provisioning run

Amundsen's party on a provisioning run with dog sleds

Stores were left along the route back from the South Pole, these required much effort and time to lay in advance of the attempt on the pole.

Taking an observation

Taking an observation

On the Fram on the way south, position on the globe was determined in part by using intruments to find the height of the sun above the horizon


Amundsen at the South Pole

Amundsen and his party at the South Pole, 14th December 1911, Friday, about 3 p.m.

The first men to the South Pole - Roald Amundsen, Olav Olavson Bjaaland, Hilmer Hanssen, Sverre H. Hassel and Oscar Wisting. The first men at the South Pole commemorate the occasion by erecting a tent with their national (Norwegian) flag flying. They leave in the tent a letter and a few supplies for Captain Scott and his party. Lightweight for the time, the tent was canvas with bamboo poles to keep it erect.

Amundsen at the pole

Amundsen's party at the pole

Amundsen and his team spent 4 days at the South Pole, they went out 20km in three directions at right angles and took numerous positional readings at different times of the day to ensure they really had reached the pole beyond all doubt.


Taking an observation at the pole

Taking an observation at the pole

One problem that arriving at the South Pole posed was determining exactly where it was. The pole itself is on a featureless icy plateau. The ice above it is moving continually but slowly. Only by very careful repeated navigational readings could Amundsen's team actually determine that they had arrived. Thus they established that this flat white bit was the pole as opposed to that other flat white bit, they passed over half an hour ago.

Amundsen and his dog team at the South 
							Pole

Roald Amundsen and his dog team at the South Pole

The first dogs to reach the South Pole as well as the first men


Polar transport

Polar transport

Key to Amundsen's success in reaching the South Pole first was the effective use of dog teams, enough teams of the correct types of dogs, enough of the right kind of food for them and enough team members who were skilled in operating the teams.

portrait of Roald Amundsen

Frontispiece (studio) portrait of Roald Amundsen

In his book about the South Pole expedition.


sounding the depth through a crack in sea ice

Improvised sounding tackle

Using a hammer with line attached to sound through the sea ice. Sounding in this instance means determining the depth of the sea at this point.

South Pole party aboard the Fram

The South Pole party safely back aboard the Fram

left to right: Sverre H. Hassel, Oscar Wisting, Roald Amundsen (centre with bowler hat) Olav Olavson Bjaaland, and Hilmer Hanssen Unknown to this victorious team at this time, no similar photograph would be able to be taken of Scott's South Polar party.


Fram and Terra Nova

Fram and Terra Nova (Scott's ship) February 1911

An unexpected meeting of Scott's Terra Nova (background) and Amundsen's Fram in February 1911, Scott was at the winter base on Ross Island and not aboard the ship and so did not meet Amundsen.

Fram and dogs being exercised

Fram and dogs being exercised

Time spent building an effective team and practising pulling the sledges would prove invaluable later on in more extreme conditions.


Framheim - 1911

Framheim - 1911

"Framheim" was the name given to the winter quarters that consisted of the ship Fram, a hut, tents and snow caves where the expeditioners prepared for the attempt on the South Pole.

Framheim - 1911

Framheim - 1911

"Heim" is a Norwegian suffix that is the equivalent of home, "Framheim" was the home of the men centered on the Fram.


Entrance to ice cave at Framheim

Entrance to one of the dug-out facilities in the snow at Framheim

Camp

Camp


Meat tent at Framheim

Meat tent at Framheim

Fresh seal meat was stored in the tent, the snow wall was built to keep the dogs out. Other tents with dried fish for dog food were open but didn't require measures to keep the dogs out. There were 14 tents around the main hut at Framheim . Other tents were used to house the dogs or storage of provisions.

Bjaaland working on a sled

Bjaaland working on a sled in the workshop

The workshop was dug out of the snow around Framheim. Sleds should be as light as possible though not at the expense of their strength.


Inside a dog tent

Inside a dog tent at Framheim

The dogs were sheltered in tents from the winter weather, when out on runs to lay provisions or for the attempt on the South Pole, the dogs have to take their chances out in the open, though conditions were not as bad as in the winter months.

The Fram at the Bay of Whales

The Fram at the Bay of Whales

The Fram spent the winter here and it is where Framheim was established, the closest possible place she could get to the pole.


Fram a fine breeze

Sailing south on the Fram in a fresh breeze

disembarking

A quick way of getting off the ship, a controlled fall/slide


Kristian Prestrud

Kristian Prestrud

Oscar Wisting

Oscar Wisting

Another reason for Amundsen's success was the use of fur clothing based on that used by the Inuit of the north, here demonstrated by two of his team.


Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen


Amundsen's route to the Pole

Approximate bird's eye view, drawn from the first telegraphic account of Roald Amundsen's South Pole expedition

Route map showing the routes of Shackleton and Amundsen in the quest for the Pole. Amundsen's team set off from their ship, the Fram where the winter base was named "Framheim". Also shown is the position of Scott's expedition and the route taken by Shackleton in 1908 - 1909 who were at the point the team that had reached the furthest point south. There is no route shown for Scott's team as it was not known at the point when Amundsen's team set off, Scott and his men set off later. The area labeled "Level Surface of Barrier Ice" is now known as the Ross Ice Shelf.

Charting the South Pole

Chart of the immediate surroundings of the South Pole

I like the title of this map, because when you look at it closely, there's nothing there at all apart from the South Pole. The only features on the map are of where there were measurements taken by Amundsen's team to determine their exact position. Only by moving away from the pole and taking sightings was it possible to accurately establish the position and so prove that the pole had been reached. The pole is on a plateau about 10,500 ft above sea level, which was named Haakon VII's Plateau after the then king of Norway.