Roald Amundsen – The Discovery of the South Pole – 14 December 1911

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen


Title: The South Pole, Volumes 1 and 2

Author: Roald Amundsen

Release Date: July, 2003 [Etext #4229]
[This file was first posted on December 9, 2001]
[Most recently updated October 20, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: Latin1

The South Pole

An Account of the Norwegian
Antarctic Expedition in the “Fram,”
1910 — 1912

By Roald Amundsen

Translated from the Norwegian by
A. G. Chater


My Comrades,
The Brave Little Band That Promised
In Funchal Roads
To Stand by Me in the Struggle for the

South Pole,

I Dedicate this Book.

Roald Amundsen.


August 15, 1912.


The First Account
Introduction, by 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
XIV. Northward
XV. The Eastern Sledge Journey
By Lieutenant K. Prestrud
XVI. The Voyage of the “Fram”
By First-Lieutenant Thorvald Nilsen
I. From Norway to the Barrier
II. Off the Barrier
III. From the Bay of Whales to Buenos Aires
IV. The Oceanographical Cruise
V. At Buenos Aires
VI. From Buenos Aires to the Ross Barrier
VII. From the Barrier to Buenos Aires, Via Hobart
Appendix I : The “Fram”
By Commodore Christian Blom
Appendix II. : Remarks on the Meteorological Observations at
By B. J. Birkeland
Appendix III: Geology
By J. Schetelig
Appendix IV.: The Astronomical Observations at the Pole
By A. Alexander, with Note by Professor H. Geelmuyden
Appendix V.: Oceanography
By Professors Bjorn Helland-Hansen and Fridtjof Nansen

List of Illustrations

Roald Amundsen
Approximate Bird’s-eye View, Drawn from the First Telegraphic Account
Reproduced by permission of the Daily Chronicle
The Opening of Roald Amundsen’s Manuscript
Helmer Hanssen, Ice Pilot, a Member of the Polar Party
The “Fram’s” Pigsty
The Pig’s Toilet
Hoisting the Flag
A Patient
Some Members of the Expedition
Sverre Hassel
Oscar Wisting
In the North-east Trades
In the Rigging
Taking an Observation
Ronne Felt Safer when the Dogs were Muzzled
Starboard Watch on the Bridge
Olav Bjaaland, a Member of the Polar Party 136
In the Absence of Lady Partners, Ronne Takes a Turn with the Dogs
An Albatross
In Warmer Regions
A Fresh Breeze in the West Wind Belt
The Propeller Lifted in the Westerlies
The “Fram’s” Saloon Decorated for Christmas Eve
Ronne at a Sailor’s Job
The “Fram” In Drift-ice
Drift-ice in Ross Sea
A Clever Method of Landing
The “Fram” under Sail
Cape Man’s Head on the Barrier
The “Fram”
The Crew of the “Fram” in the Bay of Whales
The “Fram” in the Bay of Whales
The First Dog-camp
Digging the Foundations of Framheim
Building the Hut
Unloading the Six Sledge-drivers
Polar Transport
The Provision Store
Framheim, January, 1911
Suggen, Arne, and the Colonel
Mikkel, Ravn, and Mas-mas
Framheim, February, 1911
Prestrud in Winter Dress
Bjaaland in Winter Dress
The “Fram” Veteran, Lindstrom: the Only Man Who has Sailed round the
Continent of America
The Start of the First Depot Journey
A Page from the Sledge Diary, Giving Details of Depots I. and II.
Framheim, March, 1911
Killing Seals for the Depot
The Meat Tent
The Meteorological Screen
Inside a Dog-tent
A Winter Evening at Framheim
The Carpenters’ Shop
Entrance to the Hut
Entrance to the Western Workshop
Prestrud in His Observatory
Wisting at the Sewing-machine
Packing Sledges in the “Crystal Palace”
Lindstrom with the Buckwheat Cakes
On His “Native Heath”: A Dog on the Barrier Ice
Dogs Exercising
Helmer Hanssen on a Seal-hunt
Hanssen and Wisting Lashing the New Sledges
Passage in the Ice
Johansen Packing Provisions in the “Crystal Palace”
A Corner of the Kitchen
Stubberud Taking it Easy
Johansen Packing Biscuits in the “Crystal Palace”
Hassel and the Vapour-bath
Midwinter Day, June, 1911
Our Ski-binding in its Final Form
At Work on Personal Outfit
Trying on Patent Goggles
Hassel in the Oil-store
Deep in Thought
The Loaded Sledges in the Clothing Store
Sledges Ready for Use Being Hauled Out of the Store-room
At the Depot in Lat. 80deg. S.
Some of the Land Party in Winter Costume
General Map of the South Polar Region
Roald Amundsen in Polar Kit
A Snow Beacon on the Barrier Surface
Crevassed Surface on the Barrier
Depot in 83 Degrees S.
Depot in 82 Degrees S.
At the Depot in Lat. 84 Degrees S.
The Depot and Mountains in Lat. 85 Degrees S.
Ascending Mount Betty
Mount Fridtjof Nansen, 15,000 Feet Above the Sea
At the End of a Day’s March: the Pole Expedition
The Tent After a Blizzard
A Large Filled Crevasse on the Devil’s Glacier
Hell’s Gate on the Devil’s Glacier
Mount Thorvald Nilsen
The Sledges Packed for the Final March
Taking an Observation at the Pole
At the South Pole: Oscar Wisting and His Team Arrive at the Goal
A Page from the Observation Book, December 17, 1911
At the South Pole, December 16 and 17, 1911
Mount Don Pedro Christophersen
Framheim on the Return of the Polar Party
Lindstrom in the Kitchen
Farewell to the Barrier
Bjaaland as Tinker
Dogs Landed at Hobart for Dr. Mawson’s Expedition
Members of the Japanese Antarctic Expedition
Lieutenant Prestrud
An Original Inhabitant of the Antarctic
Stubberud Reviews the Situation
Camp on the Barrier: Eastern Expedition
A Broken-off Cape
Off to the East
The Junction of the Great Barrier and King Edward Land
Improvised Sounding Tackle
The Leader of the Eastern Expedition, Prestrud, on Scott’s Nunatak
First in King Edward Land
In King Edward Land: After a Three Days’ Storm
On Scott’s Nunatak
Scott’s Nunatak
The “Fram” at the Ice-edge, January, 1912
The “Kainan Maru”
Seals on Sea-ice near the Barrier
Seals: Mother and Calf
A Group of Adelie Penguins
A Quiet Pipe
First-lieutenant Thorvald Nilsen, Norwegian Navy
The Second in Command Takes a Nap
The “Fram” Sighted
On the Ice-edge, January, 1911
Our Last Moorings on the Ice-foot
A Hunting Expedition at the Foot of the Barrier
Beck Steers the “Fram” through Unknown Waters
Our Cook, Cheerful and Contented as Usual
Sectional Diagrams of the “Fram”

List of Maps and Charts


Chart of the Immediate Surroundings of the South Pole to face
Chart of the Ross Sea
Chart of the Bay of Whales
1. Hypothetical Representation of the Surface Currents in the Northern
Atlantic in April
2. The “Fram’s” Route from June 20 To July 7, 1910
3. Temperature and Salinity in the “Fram’s” Southern Section, June, 1910
4. Temperature and Salinity in the “Fram’s” Northern Section, July, 1910
5. The “Fram’s” Stations in the South Atlantic (June — August, 1911)
6. Currents in the South Atlantic (June — August, 1911)
7. Salinities and Temperatures at the Surface in the
South Atlantic (June — August, 1911)
8. Temperatures (Centigrade) at a Depth of 400 Metres (218 Fathoms)
9. Temperatures at Station 32 (In the Benguela Current, July 22, 1911),
and at Station 60 (In the Brazil Current, August 19, 1911)
10. Salinities at Station 32 (In the Benguela Current, July 22, 1911),
and at Station 60 (In the Brazil Current, August 19, 1911)
11. Salinities and Temperatures in the Southern Section (June —
July, 1911)
12. Salinities and Temperatures in the Northern Section (July —
August, 1911)
13. Temperatures at one of the “Fram’s” and one of the “Challenger’s”
Stations, to the South of the South Equatorial Current
14. Temperatures at one of the “Fram’s” and one of the “Valdivia’s”
Stations, in the Benguela Current
15. Temperatures at the “Planet’s” Station 25, And the “Fram’s”
Station 39 — Both in the Neighbourhood of St. Helena
16. Salinities at the “Planet’s” Station 25 (March 19, 1906), and the
“Fram’s” Station 39 (July 29, 1911)
Chart of the Antarctic Region

The First Account

On February 10, 1911, we started for the South to establish depots,
and continued our journey until April 11. We formed three depots and
stored in them 3 tons of provisions, including 22 hundredweight of
seal meat. As there were no landmarks, we had to indicate the position
of our depots by flags, which were posted at a distance of about four
miles to the east and west. The first barrier afforded the best going,
and was specially adapted for dog-sledging. Thus, on February 15 we
did sixty-two miles with sledges. Each sledge weighed 660 pounds,
and we had six dogs for each. The upper barrier (“barrier surface”)
was smooth and even. There were a few crevasses here and there, but
we only found them dangerous at one or two points. The barrier went
in long, regular undulations. The weather was very favourable, with
calms or light winds. The lowest temperature at this station was -49°
F., which was taken on March 4.

When we returned to winter quarters on February 5 from a first trip,
we found that the Fram had already left us. With joy and pride we heard
from those who had stayed behind that our gallant captain had succeeded
in sailing her farther south than any former ship. So the good old
Fram has shown the flag of Norway both farthest north and farthest
south. The most southerly latitude reached by the Fram was 78° 41′.

Before the winter set in we had 60 tons of seal meat in our winter
quarters; this was enough for ourselves and our 110 dogs. We had built
eight kennels and a number of connecting tents and snow huts. When we
had provided for the dogs, we thought of ourselves. Our little hut
was almost entirely covered with snow. Not till the middle of April
did we decide to adopt artificial light in the hut. This we did with
the help of a Lux lamp of 200 candle-power, which gave an excellent
light and kept the indoor temperature at about 68° F. throughout the
winter. The ventilation was very satisfactory, and we got sufficient
fresh air. The hut was directly connected with the house in which we
had our workshop, larder, storeroom, and cellar, besides a single
bathroom and observatory. Thus we had everything within doors and
easily got at, in case the weather should be so cold and stormy that
we could not venture out.

The sun left us on April 22, and we did not see it again for four
months. We spent the winter in altering our whole equipment, which our
depot journeys had shown to be too heavy and clumsy for the smooth
barrier surface. At the same time we carried out all the scientific
work for which there was opportunity. We made a number of surprising
meteorological observations. There was very little snow, in spite
of there being open water in the neighbourhood. We had expected to
observe higher temperatures in the course of the winter, but the
thermometer remained very low. During five months temperatures were
observed varying between -58° and -74° F. We had the lowest (-74°
F.) on August 13; the weather was calm. On August 1 we had -72°
F. with a wind of thirteen miles an hour. The mean temperature for
the year was -15° F. We expected blizzard after blizzard, but had
only two moderate storms. We made many excellent observations of the
aurora australis in all parts of the heavens. Our bill of health was
the best possible throughout the whole winter. When the sun returned
on August 24 it shone upon men who were healthy in mind and body,
and ready to begin the task that lay before them.

We had brought the sledges the day before to the starting-point of the
southern journey. At the beginning of September the temperature rose,
and it was decided to commence the journey. On September 8 a party of
eight men set out, with seven sledges and ninety dogs, provisioned for
ninety days. The surface was excellent, and the temperature not so bad
as it might have been. But on the following day we saw that we had
started too early. The temperature then fell, and remained for some
days between -58° and -75° F. Personally we did not suffer at all, as
we had good fur clothing, but with the dogs it was another matter. They
grew lanker and lanker every day, and we soon saw that they would not
be able to stand it in the long run. At our depot in lat. 80° we agreed
to turn back and await the arrival of spring. After having stored our
provisions, we returned to the hut. Excepting the loss of a few dogs
and one or two frostbitten heels, all was well. It was not till the
middle of October that the spring began in earnest. Seals and birds
were sighted. The temperature remained steady, between -5° and -22° F.

Meanwhile we had abandoned the original plan, by which all were to
go to the south. Five men were to do this, while three others made
a trip to the east, to visit King Edward VII. Land. This trip did
not form part of our programme, but as the English did not reach
this land last summer, as had been their intention, we agreed that
it would be best to undertake this journey in addition.

On October 20 the southern party left. It consisted of five men
with four sledges and fifty-two dogs, and had provisions for four
months. Everything was in excellent order, and we had made up our minds
to take it easy during the first part of the journey, so that we and
the dogs might not be too fatigued, and we therefore decided to make
a little halt on the 22nd at the depot that lay in lat. 80°. However,
we missed the mark owing to thick fog, but after two or three miles’
march we found the place again.

When we had rested here and given the dogs as much seal meat as
they were able to eat, we started again on the 26th. The temperature
remained steady, between -5° and -22° F.

At first we had made up our minds not to drive more than twelve to
eighteen miles a day; but this proved to be too little, thanks to
our strong and willing animals. At lat. 80° we began to erect snow
beacons, about the height of a man, to show us the way home.

On the 31st we reached the depot in lat. 81°. We halted for a day
and fed the dogs on pemmican. On November 5 we reached the depot
in 82°, where for the last time the dogs got as much to eat as they
could manage.

On the 8th we started southward again, and now made a daily march of
about thirty miles. In order to relieve the heavily laden sledges, we
formed a depot at every parallel we reached. The journey from lat. 82°
to 83° was a pure pleasure trip, on account of the surface and the
temperature, which were as favourable as one could wish. Everything
went swimmingly until the 9th, when we sighted South Victoria Land
and the continuation of the mountain chain, which Shackleton gives
on his map, running southeast from Beardmore Glacier. On the same
day we reached lat. 83°, and established here Depot No. 4.

On the 11th we made the interesting discovery that the Ross Barrier
ended in an elevation on the south-east, formed between a chain of
mountains running south-eastward from South Victoria Land and another
chain on the opposite side, which runs south-westward in continuation
of King Edward VII. Land.

On the 13th we reached lat. 84°, where we established a depot. On the
16th we got to 85°, where again we formed a depot. From our winter
quarters at Framheim we had marched due south the whole time.

On November 17, in lat. 85°, we came to a spot where the land barrier
intersected our route, though for the time being this did not cause
us any difficulty. The barrier here rises in the form of a wave to
a height of about 300 feet, and its limit is shown by a few large
fissures. Here we established our main depot. We took supplies for
sixty days on the sledges and left behind enough provisions for
thirty days.

The land under which we now lay, and which we were to attack, looked
perfectly impossible, with peaks along the barrier which rose to
heights of from 2,000 to 10,000 feet. Farther south we saw more peaks,
of 15,000 feet or higher.

Next day we began to climb. The first part of the work was easy,
as the ground rose gradually with smooth snow-slopes below the
mountain-side. Our dogs working well, it did not take us long to get
over these slopes.

At the next point we met with some small, very steep glaciers,
and here we had to harness twenty dogs to each sledge and take the
four sledges in two journeys. Some places were so steep that it was
difficult to use our ski. Several times we were compelled by deep
crevasses to turn back.

On the first day we climbed 2,000 feet. The next day we crossed
small glaciers, and camped at a height of 4,635 feet. On the third
day we were obliged to descend the great Axel Heiberg Glacier, which
separates the mountains of the coast from those farther south.

On the following day the longest part of our climbing began. Many
detours had to be made to avoid broad fissures and open crevasses. Most
of them were filled up, as in all probability the glacier had long
ago ceased to move; but we had to be very careful, nevertheless,
as we could never know the depth of snow that covered them. Our camp
that night was in very picturesque surroundings, at a height of about
5,000 feet.

The glacier was here imprisoned between two mountains of 15,000 feet,
which we named after Fridtjof Nansen and Don Pedro Christophersen.

At the bottom of the glacier we saw Ole Engelstad’s great snow-cone
rising in the air to 19,000 feet. The glacier was much broken up in
this narrow defile; enormous crevasses seemed as if they would stop
our going farther, but fortunately it was not so bad as it looked.

Our dogs, which during the last few days had covered a distance of
nearly 440 miles, put in a very good piece of work that day, as they
did twenty-two miles on ground rising to 5,770 feet. It was an almost
incredible record. It only took us four days from the barrier to reach
the immense inland plateau. We camped at a height of 7,600 feet. Here
we had to kill twenty-four of our brave dogs, keeping eighteen —
six for each of our three sledges. We halted here for four days on
account of bad weather. On November 25 we were tired of waiting, and
started again. On the 26th we were overtaken by a raging blizzard. In
the thick, driving snow we could see absolutely nothing; but we felt
that, contrary to what we had expected — namely, a further ascent
— we were going rapidly downhill. The hypsometer that day showed a
descent of 600 feet. We continued our march next day in a strong wind
and thick, driving snow. Our faces were badly frozen. There was no
danger, but we simply could see nothing. Next day, according to our
reckoning, we reached lat. 86°. The hypsometer showed a fall of 800
feet. The following day passed in the same way. The weather cleared up
about noon, and there appeared to our astonished eyes a mighty mountain
range to the east of us, and not far away. But the vision only lasted
a moment, and then disappeared again in the driving snow. On the 29th
the weather became calmer and the sun shone — a pleasant surprise. Our
course lay over a great glacier, which ran in a southerly direction. On
its eastern side was a chain of mountains running to the southeast. We
had no view of its western part, as this was lost in a thick fog. At
the foot of the Devil’s Glacier we established a depot in lat. 86°
21′, calculated for six days. The hypsometer showed 8,000 feet above
sea level. On November 30 we began to ascend the glacier. The lower
part was much broken up and dangerous, and the thin bridges of snow
over the crevasses often broke under us. From our camp that evening
we had a splendid view of the mountains to the east. Mount Helmer
Hansen was the most remarkable of them all; it was 12,000 feet high,
and covered by a glacier so rugged that in all probability it would
have been impossible to find foothold on it. Here were also Mounts
Oskar Wisting, Sverre Hassel, and Olav Bjaaland, grandly lighted up
by the rays of the sun. In the distance, and only visible from time
to time through the driving mists, we saw Mount Thorvald Nilsen,
with peaks rising to 15,000 feet. We could only see those parts of
them that lay nearest to us. It took us three days to get over the
Devil’s Glacier, as the weather was unusually misty.

On December 1 we left the glacier in high spirits. It was cut up by
innumerable crevasses and holes. We were now at a height of 9,370
feet. In the mist and driving snow it looked as if we had a frozen
lake before us; but it proved to be a sloping plateau of ice, full
of small blocks of ice. Our walk across this frozen lake was not
pleasant. The ground under our feet was evidently hollow, and it
sounded as if we were walking on empty barrels. First a man fell
through, then a couple of dogs; but they got up again all right. We
could not, of course, use our ski on this smooth-polished ice, but we
got on fairly well with the sledges. We called this place the Devil’s
Ballroom. This part of our march was the most unpleasant of the whole
trip. On December 2 we reached our greatest elevation. According to
the hypsometer and our aneroid barometer we were at a height of 11,075
feet — this was in lat. 87° 51′. On December 8 the bad weather came
to an end, the sun shone on us once more, and we were able to take our
observations again. It proved that the observations and our reckoning
of the distance covered gave exactly the same result — namely, 88°
16′ S. lat. Before us lay an absolutely flat plateau, only broken
by small crevices. In the afternoon we passed 88° 23′, Shackleton’s
farthest south. We pitched our camp in 88° 25′, and established our
last depot — No. 10. From 88° 25′ the plateau began to descend evenly
and very slowly. We reached 88° 29′ on December 9. On December 10, 88°
56′; December 11, 89° 15′; December 12, 89° 30′; December 13, 89° 45′.

Up to this moment the observations and our reckoning had shown a
surprising agreement. We reckoned that we should be at the Pole on
December 14. On the afternoon of that day we had brilliant weather —
a light wind from the south-east with a temperature of -10° F. The
sledges were going very well. The day passed without any occurrence
worth mentioning, and at three o’clock in the afternoon we halted,
as according to our reckoning we had reached our goal.

We all assembled about the Norwegian flag — a handsome silken flag —
which we took and planted all together, and gave the immense plateau
on which the Pole is situated the name of “King Haakon VII.’s Plateau.”

It was a vast plain of the same character in every direction, mile
after mile. During the afternoon we traversed the neighbourhood of
the camp, and on the following day, as the weather was fine, we were
occupied from six in the morning till seven in the evening in taking
observations, which gave us 89° 55′ as the result. In order to take
observations as near the Pole as possible, we went on, as near true
south as we could, for the remaining 9 kilometres. On December 16 we
pitched our camp in brilliant sunshine, with the best conditions for
taking observations. Four of us took observations every hour of the
day — twenty-four in all. The results of these will be submitted to
the examination of experts.

We have thus taken observations as near to the Pole as was humanly
possible with the instruments at our disposal. We had a sextant and
artificial horizon calculated for a radius of 8 kilometres.

On December 17 we were ready to go. We raised on the spot a little
circular tent, and planted above it the Norwegian flag and the Fram’s
pennant. The Norwegian camp at the South Pole was given the name of
“Polheim.” The distance from our winter quarters to the Pole was about
870 English miles, so that we had covered on an average 15 1/2 miles
a day.

We began the return journey on December 17. The weather was unusually
favourable, and this made our return considerably easier than the
march to the Pole. We arrived at “Framheim,” our winter quarters,
in January, 1912, with two sledges and eleven dogs, all well. On the
homeward journey we covered an average of 22 1/2 miles a day. The
lowest temperature we observed on this trip was -24° F., and the
highest +23° F.

The principal result — besides the attainment of the Pole — is
the determination of the extent and character of the Ross Barrier. Next
to this, the discovery of a connection between South Victoria Land
and, probably, King Edward VII. Land through their continuation in
huge mountain-ranges, which run to the south-east and were seen as far
south as lat. 88° 8′, but which in all probability are continued right
across the Antarctic Continent. We gave the name of “Queen Maud’s
Mountains” to the whole range of these newly discovered mountains,
about 530 miles in length.

The expedition to King Edward VII. Land, under Lieutenant Prestrud,
has achieved excellent results. Scott’s discovery was confirmed, and
the examination of the Bay of Whales and the Ice Barrier, which the
party carried out, is of great interest. Good geological collections
have been obtained from King Edward VII. Land and South Victoria Land.

The Fram arrived at the Bay of Whales on January 9, having been
delayed in the “Roaring Forties ” by easterly winds.

On January 16 the Japanese expedition arrived at the Bay of Whales,
and landed on the Barrier near our winter quarters.

We left the Bay of Whales on January 30. We had a long voyage on
account of contrary wind.

We are all in the best of health.

Roald Amundsen.


March 8, 1912.


When the explorer comes home victorious, everyone goes out to cheer
him. We are all proud of his achievement — proud on behalf of the
nation and of humanity. We think it is a new feather in our cap,
and one we have come by cheaply.

How many of those who join in the cheering were there when the
expedition was fitting out, when it was short of bare necessities,
when support and assistance were most urgently wanted? Was there
then any race to be first? At such a time the leader has usually
found himself almost alone; too often he has had to confess that his
greatest difficulties were those he had to overcome at home before
he could set sail. So it was with Columbus, and so it has been with
many since his time.

So it was, too, with Roald Amundsen — not only the first time, when he
sailed in the Gjцa with the double object of discovering the Magnetic
North Pole and of making the North-West Passage, but this time again,
when in 1910 he left the fjord on his great expedition in the Fram,
to drift right across the North Polar Sea. What anxieties that man has
gone through, which might have been spared him if there had been more
appreciation on the part of those who had it in their power to make
things easier! And Amundsen had then shown what stuff he was made of:
both the great objects of the Gjцa’s expedition were achieved. He
has always reached the goal he has aimed at, this man who sailed his
little yacht over the whole Arctic Ocean, round the north of America,
on the course that had been sought in vain for four hundred years. If
he staked his life and abilities, would it not have been natural if
we had been proud of having such a man to support?

But was it so?

For a long time he struggled to complete his equipment. Money was still
lacking, and little interest was shown in him and his work, outside the
few who have always helped so far as was in their power. He himself
gave everything he possessed in the world. But this time, as last,
he nevertheless had to put to sea loaded with anxieties and debts,
and, as before, he sailed out quietly on a summer night.

Autumn was drawing on. One day there came a letter from him. In
order to raise the money he could not get at home for his North Polar
expedition he was going to the South Pole first. People stood still
— did not know what to say. This was an unheard-of thing, to make
for the North Pole by way of the South Pole! To make such an immense
and entirely new addition to his plans without asking leave! Some
thought it grand; more thought it doubtful; but there were many who
cried out that it was inadmissible, disloyal — nay, there were some
who wanted to have him stopped. But nothing of this reached him. He
had steered his course as he himself had set it, without looking back.

Then by degrees it was forgotten, and everyone went on with his own
affairs. The mists were upon us day after day, week after week —
the mists that are kind to little men and swallow up all that is
great and towers above them.

Suddenly a bright spring day cuts through the bank of fog. There
is a new message. People stop again and look up. High above them
shines a deed, a man. A wave of joy runs through the souls of men;
their eyes are bright as the flags that wave about them.

Why? On account of the great geographical discoveries, the
important scientific results? Oh no; that will come later, for the
few specialists. This is something all can understand. A victory of
human mind and human strength over the dominion and powers of Nature;
a deed that lifts us above the grey monotony of daily life; a view
over shining plains, with lofty mountains against the cold blue sky,
and lands covered by ice-sheets of inconceivable extent; a vision
of long-vanished glacial times; the triumph of the living over the
stiffened realm of death. There is a ring of steeled, purposeful
human will — through icy frosts, snowstorms, and death.

For the victory is not due to the great inventions of the present
day and the many new appliances of every kind. The means used are
of immense antiquity, the same as were known to the nomad thousands
of years ago, when he pushed forward across the snow-covered plains
of Siberia and Northern Europe. But everything, great and small, was
thoroughly thought out, and the plan was splendidly executed. It is
the man that matters, here as everywhere.

Like everything great, it all looks so plain and simple. Of course,
that is just as it had to be, we think.

Apart from the discoveries and experiences of earlier explorers —
which, of course, were a necessary condition of success — both
the plan and its execution are the ripe fruit of Norwegian life
and experience in ancient and modern times. The Norwegians’ daily
winter life in snow and frost, our peasants’ constant use of ski and
ski-sledge in forest and mountain, our sailors’ yearly whaling and
sealing life in the Polar Sea, our explorers’ journeys in the Arctic
regions — it was all this, with the dog as a draught animal borrowed
from the primitive races, that formed the foundation of the plan and
rendered its execution possible — when the man appeared.

Therefore, when the man is there, it carries him through all
difficulties as if they did not exist; every one of them has been
foreseen and encountered in advance. Let no one come and prate
about luck and chance. Amundsen’s luck is that of the strong man who
looks ahead.

How like him and the whole expedition is his telegram home — as
simple and straightforward as if it concerned a holiday tour in the
mountains. It speaks of what is achieved, not of their hardships. Every
word a manly one. That is the mark of the right man, quiet and strong.

It is still too early to measure the extent of the new discoveries,
but the cablegram has already dispersed the mists so far that the
outlines are beginning to shape themselves. That fairyland of ice, so
different from all other lands, is gradually rising out of the clouds.

In this wonderful world of ice Amundsen has found his own way. From
first to last he and his companions have traversed entirely unknown
regions on their ski, and there are not many expeditions in history
that have brought under the foot of man so long a range of country
hitherto unseen by human eye. People thought it a matter of course that
he would make for Beardmore Glacier, which Shackleton had discovered,
and by that route come out on to the high snow plateau near the Pole,
since there he would be sure of getting forward. We who knew Amundsen
thought it would be more like him to avoid a place for the very reason
that it had been trodden by others. Happily we were right. Not at
any point does his route touch that of the Englishmen — except by
the Pole itself.

This is a great gain to research. When in a year’s time we have Captain
Scott back safe and sound with all his discoveries and observations on
the other route, Amundsen’s results will greatly increase in value,
since the conditions will then be illuminated from two sides. The
simultaneous advance towards the Pole from two separate points was
precisely the most fortunate thing that could happen for science. The
region investigated becomes so much greater, the discoveries so many
more, and the importance of the observations is more than doubled,
often multiplied many times. Take, for instance, the meteorological
conditions: a single series of observations from one spot no doubt has
its value, but if we get a simultaneous series from another spot in
the same region, the value of both becomes very much greater, because
we then have an opportunity of understanding the movements of the
atmosphere. And so with other investigations. Scott’s expedition will
certainly bring back rich and important results in many departments,
but the value of his observations will also be enhanced when placed
side by side with Amundsen’s.

An important addition to Amundsen’s expedition to the Pole is the
sledge journey of Lieutenant Prestrud and his two companions eastward
to the unknown King Edward VII. Land, which Scott discovered in
1902. It looks rather as if this land was connected with the masses
of land and immense mountain-chains that Amundsen found near the
Pole. We see new problems looming up.

But it was not only these journeys over ice-sheets and mountain-ranges
that were carried out in masterly fashion. Our gratitude is also due
to Captain Nilsen and his men. They brought the Fram backwards and
forwards, twice each way, through those ice-filled southern waters
that many experts even held to be so dangerous that the Fram would
not be able to come through them, and on both trips this was done
with the speed and punctuality of a ship on her regular route. The
Fram’s builder, the excellent Colin Archer, has reason to be proud
of the way in which his “child” has performed her latest task —
this vessel that has been farthest north and farthest south on our
globe. But Captain Nilsen and the crew of the Fram have done more than
this; they have carried out a work of research which in scientific
value may be compared with what their comrades have accomplished
in the unknown world of ice, although most people will not be able
to recognize this. While Amundsen and his companions were passing
the winter in the South, Captain Nilsen, in the Fram, investigated
the ocean between South America and Africa. At no fewer than sixty
stations they took a number of temperatures, samples of water, and
specimens of the plankton in this little-known region, to a depth of
2,000 fathoms and more. They thus made the first two sections that
have ever been taken of the South Atlantic, and added new regions of
the unknown ocean depths to human knowledge. The Fram’s sections are
the longest and most complete that are known in any part of the ocean.

Would it be unreasonable if those who have endured and achieved so much
had now come home to rest? But Amundsen points onward. So much for
that; now for the real object. Next year his course will be through
Behring Strait into the ice and frost and darkness of the North, to
drift right across the North Polar Sea — five years, at least. It
seems almost superhuman; but he is the man for that, too. Fram is
his ship, “forward” is his motto, and he will come through.[1] He
will carry out his main expedition, the one that is now before him,
as surely and steadily as that he has just come from.

But while we are waiting, let us rejoice over what has already been
achieved. Let us follow the narrow sledge-tracks that the little black
dots of dogs and men have drawn across the endless white surface down
there in the South — like a railroad of exploration into the heart
of the unknown. The wind in its everlasting flight sweeps over these
tracks in the desert of snow. Soon all will be blotted out.

But the rails of science are laid; our knowledge is richer than before.

And the light of the achievement shines for all time.

Fridtjof Nansen.


May 3, 1912.


The Opening of Roald Amundsen’s Manuscript.

To face page I, Vol. I.


The History of the South Pole[2]

“Life is a ball In the hands of chance.”

Brisbane, Queensland, April 13, 1912.

Here I am, sitting in the shade of palms, surrounded by the most
wonderful vegetation, enjoying the most magnificent fruits, and writing
— the history of the South Pole. What an infinite distance seems to
separate that region from these surroundings! And yet it is only four
months since my gallant comrades and I reached the coveted spot.

I write the history of the South Pole! If anyone had hinted a word of
anything of the sort four or five years ago, I should have looked upon
him as incurably mad. And yet the madman would have been right. One
circumstance has followed on the heels of another, and everything
has turned out so entirely different from what I had imagined.

On December 14, 1911, five men stood at the southern end of our earth’s
axis, planted the Norwegian flag there, and named the region after
the man for whom they would all gladly have offered their lives —
King Haakon VII. Thus the veil was torn aside for all time, and one
of the greatest of our earth’s secrets had ceased to exist.

Since I was one of the five who, on that December afternoon, took part
in this unveiling, it has fallen to my lot to write — the history
of the South Pole.

Antarctic exploration is very ancient. Even before our conception
of the earth’s form had taken definite shape, voyages to the South
began. It is true that not many of the explorers of those distant times
reached what we now understand by the Antarctic regions, but still
the intention and the possibility were there, and justify the name of
Antarctic exploration. The motive force of these undertakings was —
as has so often been the case — the hope of gain. Rulers greedy of
power saw in their mind’s eye an increase of their possessions. Men
thirsting for gold dreamed of an unsuspected wealth of the alluring
metal. Enthusiastic missionaries rejoiced at the thought of a multitude
of lost sheep. The scientifically trained world waited modestly in
the background. But they have all had their share: politics, trade,
religion, and science.

The history of Antarctic discovery may be divided at the outset into
two categories. In the first of these I would include the numerous
voyagers who, without any definite idea of the form or conditions of
the southern hemisphere, set their course toward the South, to make
what landfall they could. These need only be mentioned briefly before
passing to the second group, that of Antarctic travellers in the proper
sense of the term, who, with a knowledge of the form of the earth,
set out across the ocean, aiming to strike the Antarctic monster —
in the heart, if fortune favoured them.

We must always remember with gratitude and admiration the first sailors
who steered their vessels through storms and mists, and increased our
knowledge of the lands of ice in the South. People of the present day,
who are so well supplied with information about the most distant parts
of the earth, and have all our modern means of communication at their
command, find it difficult to understand the intrepid courage that
is implied by the voyages of these men.

They shaped their course toward the dark unknown, constantly exposed
to being engulfed and destroyed by the vague, mysterious dangers that
lay in wait for them somewhere in that dim vastness.

The beginnings were small, but by degrees much was won. One stretch
of country after another was discovered and subjected to the power of
man. Knowledge of the appearance of our globe became ever greater and
took more definite shape. Our gratitude to these first discoverers
should be profound.

And yet even to-day we hear people ask in surprise: What is the use
of these voyages of exploration? What good do they do us? Little
brains, I always answer to myself, have only room for thoughts of
bread and butter.

The first name on the roll of discovery is that of Prince Henry of
Portugal, surnamed the Navigator, who is ever to be remembered as
the earliest promoter of geographical research. To his efforts was
due the first crossing of the Equator, about 1470.

With Bartholomew Diaz another great step in advance was made. Sailing
from Lisbon in 1487, he reached Algoa Bay, and without doubt passed
the fortieth parallel on his southward voyage.

Vasco da Gama’s voyage of 1497 is too well known to need
description. After him came men like Cabral and Vespucci, who
increased our knowledge, and de Gonneville, who added to the romance
of exploration.

We then meet with the greatest of the older explorers, Ferdinand
Magellan, a Portuguese by birth, though sailing in the service of
Spain. Setting out in 1519, he discovered the connection between the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the strait that bears his name. No one
before him had penetrated so far South — to about lat. 52° S. One
of his ships, the Victoria, accomplished the first circumnavigation
of the world, and thus established in the popular mind the fact that
the earth was really round. From that time the idea of the Antarctic
regions assumed definite shape. There must be something in the South:
whether land or water the future was to determine.

In 1578 we come to the renowned English seaman, Sir Francis
Drake. Though he was accounted a buccaneer, we owe him honour for the
geographical discoveries he made. He rounded Cape Horn and proved
that Tierra del Fuego was a great group of islands and not part of
an Antarctic continent, as many had thought.

The Dutchman, Dirk Gerritsz, who took part in a plundering expedition
to India in 1599 by way of the Straits of Magellan, is said to have
been blown out of his course after passing the straits, and to have
found himself in lat. 64° S. under high land covered with snow. This
has been assumed to be the South Shetland Islands, but the account
of the voyage is open to doubt.

In the seventeenth century we have the discoveries of Tasman, and
towards its close English adventurers reported having reached high
latitudes in the South Atlantic.

The English Astronomer Royal, Halley, undertook a scientific voyage to
the South in 1699 for the purpose of making magnetic observations, and
met with ice in 52° S., from which latitude he returned to the north.

The Frenchman, Bouvet (1738), was the first to follow the southern
ice-pack for any considerable distance, and to bring reports of the
immense, flat-topped Antarctic icebergs.

In 1756 the Spanish trading-ship Leon came home and reported high,
snow-covered land in lat. 55° S. to the east of Cape Horn. The
probability is that this was what we now know by the name of
South Georgia. The Frenchman, Marion-Dufresne, discovered, in
1772, the Marion and Crozet Islands. In the same year Joseph de
Kerguйlen-Trйmarec — another Frenchman — reached Kerguelen Land.

This concludes the series of expeditions that I have thought it proper
to class in the first group. “Antarctica,” the sixth continent itself,
still lay unseen and untrodden. But human courage and intelligence
were now actively stirred to lift the veil and reveal the many secrets
that were concealed within the Antarctic Circle.

Captain James Cook — one of the boldest and most capable seamen
the world has known — opens the series of Antarctic expeditions
properly so called. The British Admiralty sent him out with orders
to discover the great southern continent, or prove that it did not
exist. The expedition, consisting of two ships, the Resolution and
the Adventure, left Plymouth on July 13, 1772. After a short stay at
Madeira it reached Cape Town on October 30. Here Cook received news of
the discovery of Kerguelen and of the Marion and Crozet Islands. In
the course of his voyage to the south Cook passed 300 miles to the
south of the land reported by Bouvet, and thereby established the fact
that the land in question — if it existed — was not continuous with
the great southern continent.

On January 17, 1773, the Antarctic Circle was crossed for the first
time — a memorable day in the annals of Antarctic exploration. Shortly
afterwards a solid pack was encountered, and Cook was forced to return
to the north. A course was laid for the newly discovered islands —
Kerguelen, Marion, and the Crozets — and it was proved that they
had nothing to do with the great southern land. In the course of his
further voyages in Antarctic waters Cook completed the most southerly
circumnavigation of the globe, and showed that there was no connection
between any of the lands or islands that had been discovered and
the great mysterious “Antarctica.” His highest latitude (January 30,
1774) was 71° 10′ S.

Cook’s voyages had important commercial results, as his reports of
the enormous number of seals round South Georgia brought many sealers,
both English and American, to those waters, and these sealers, in turn,
increased the field of geographical discovery.

In 1819 the discovery of the South Shetlands by the Englishman,
Captain William Smith, is to be recorded. And this discovery led to
that of the Palmer Archipelago to the south of them.

The next scientific expedition to the Antarctic regions was that
despatched by the Emperor Alexander I. of Russia, under the command
of Captain Thaddeus von Bellingshausen. It was composed of two ships,
and sailed from Cronstadt on July 15, 1819. To this expedition belongs
the honour of having discovered the first land to the south of the
Antarctic Circle — Peter I. Island and Alexander I. Land.

The next star in the Antarctic firmament is the British seaman, James
Weddell. He made two voyages in a sealer of 160 tons, the Jane of
Leith, in 1819 and 1822, being accompanied on the second occasion by
the cutter Beaufoy. In February, 1823, Weddell had the satisfaction
of beating Cook’s record by reaching a latitude of 74° 15′ S. in the
sea now known as Weddell Sea, which in that year was clear of ice.

The English firm of shipowners, Enderby Brothers, plays a not
unimportant part in Antarctic exploration. The Enderbys had carried on
sealing in southern waters since 1785. They were greatly interested,
not only in the commercial, but also in the scientific results of
these voyages, and chose their captains accordingly. In 1830 the
firm sent out John Biscoe on a sealing voyage in the Antarctic Ocean
with the brig Tula and the cutter Lively. The result of this voyage
was the sighting of Enderby Land in lat. 66° 25′ S., long. 49° 18′
E. In the following year Adelaide, Biscoe, and Pitt Islands, on the
west coast of Graham Land were charted, and Graham Land itself was
seen for the first time.

Kemp, another of Enderby’s skippers, reported land in lat. 66° S.,
and about long. 60° E.

In 1839 yet another skipper of the same firm, John Balleny, in the
schooner Eliza Scott, discovered the Balleny Islands.

We then come to the celebrated French sailor, Admiral Jules
Sйbastien Dumont d’Urville. He left Toulon in September, 1837, with
a scientifically equipped expedition, in the ships Astrolabe and
Zйlйe. The intention was to follow in Weddell’s track, and endeavour
to carry the French flag still nearer to the Pole. Early in 1838 Louis
Philippe Land and Joinville Island were discovered and named. Two
years later we again find d’Urville’s vessels in Antarctic waters,
with the object of investigating the magnetic conditions in the
vicinity of the South Magnetic Pole. Land was discovered in lat. 66°
30′ S. and long. 138° 21′ E. With the exception of a few bare islets,
the whole of this land was completely covered with snow. It was given
the name of Adйlie Land, and a part of the ice-barrier lying to the
west of it was called C^ote Clarie, on the supposition that it must
envelop a line of coast.

The American naval officer, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, sailed in
August, 1838, with a fleet of six vessels. The expedition was sent out
by Congress, and carried twelve scientific observers. In February,
1839, the whole of this imposing Antarctic fleet was collected in
Orange Harbour in the south of Tierra del Fuego, where the work
was divided among the various vessels. As to the results of this
expedition it is difficult to express an opinion. Certain it is
that Wilkes Land has subsequently been sailed over in many places
by several expeditions. Of what may have been the cause of this
inaccurate cartography it is impossible to form any opinion. It
appears, however, from the account of the whole voyage, that the
undertaking was seriously conducted.

Then the bright star appears — the man whose name will ever be
remembered as one of the most intrepid polar explorers and one of
the most capable seamen the world has produced — Admiral Sir James
Clark Ross.

The results of his expedition are well known. Ross himself commanded
the Erebus and Commander Francis Crozier the Terror. The former
vessel, of 370 tons, had been originally built for throwing bombs;
her construction was therefore extraordinarily solid. The Terror,
340 tons, had been previously employed in Arctic waters, and on this
account had been already strengthened. In provisioning the ships,
every possible precaution was taken against scurvy, with the dangers
of which Ross was familiar from his experience in Arctic waters.

The vessels sailed from England in September, 1839, calling at
many of the Atlantic Islands, and arrived in Christmas Harbour,
Kerguelen Land, in the following May. Here they stayed two months,
making magnetic observations, and then proceeded to Hobart.

Sir John Franklin, the eminent polar explorer, was at that time
Governor of Tasmania, and Ross could not have wished for a better
one. Interested as Franklin naturally was in the expedition, he
afforded it all the help he possibly could. During his stay in Tasmania
Ross received information of what had been accomplished by Wilkes and
Dumont d’Urville in the very region which the Admiralty had sent him
to explore. The effect of this news was that Ross changed his plans,
and decided to proceed along the 170th meridian E., and if possible
to reach the Magnetic Pole from the eastward.

Here was another fortuitous circumstance in the long chain of
events. If Ross had not received this intelligence, it is quite
possible that the epoch-making geographical discoveries associated
with his name would have been delayed for many years.

On November 12, 1840, Sir John Franklin went on board the Erebus
to accompany his friend Ross out of port. Strange are the ways of
life! There stood Franklin on the deck of the ship which a few years
later was to be his deathbed. Little did he suspect, as he sailed
out of Hobart through Storm Bay — the bay that is now wreathed by
the flourishing orchards of Tasmania — that he would meet his death
in a high northern latitude on board the same vessel, in storms and
frost. But so it was.

After calling at the Auckland Islands and at Campbell Island, Ross
again steered for the South, and the Antarctic Circle was crossed on
New Year’s Day, 1841. The ships were now faced by the ice-pack, but
to Ross this was not the dangerous enemy it had appeared to earlier
explorers with their more weakly constructed vessels. Ross plunged
boldly into the pack with his fortified ships, and, taking advantage
of the narrow leads, he came out four days later, after many severe
buffets, into the open sea to the South.

Ross had reached the sea now named after him, and the boldest voyage
known in Antarctic exploration was accomplished.

Few people of the present day are capable of rightly appreciating this
heroic deed; this brilliant proof of human courage and energy. With
two ponderous craft — regular “tubs” according to our ideas — these
men sailed right into the heart of the pack, which all previous polar
explorers had regarded as certain death. It is not merely difficult
to grasp this; it is simply impossible — to us, who with a motion
of the hand can set the screw going, and wriggle out of the first
difficulty we encounter. These men were heroes — heroes in the
highest sense of the word.

It was in lat. 69° 15′ S. and long. 176° 15′ E. that Ross found the
open sea. On the following day the horizon was perfectly clear of
ice. What joy that man must have felt when he saw that he had a clear
way to the South!

The course was set for the Magnetic Pole, and the hope of soon reaching
it burned in the hearts of all. Then — just as they had accustomed
themselves to the idea of open sea, perhaps to the Magnetic Pole
itself — the crow’s-nest reported “High land right ahead.” This was
the mountainous coast of South Victoria Land.

What a fairyland this must have seemed to the first voyagers who
approached it! Mighty mountain-ranges with summits from 7,000 to
10,000 feet high, some covered with snow and some quite bare —
lofty and rugged, precipitous and wild.

It became apparent that the Magnetic Pole was some 500 miles distant
— far inland, behind the snow-covered ridges. On the morning of
January 12 they came close under a little island, and Ross with a
few companions rowed ashore and took possession of the country. They
could not reach the mainland itself on account of the thick belt of
ice that lay along the coast.

The expedition continued to work its way southward, making fresh
discoveries. On January 28 the two lofty summits, Mount Erebus and
Mount Terror, were sighted for the first time. The former was seen to
be an active volcano, from which smoke and flames shot up into the
sky. It must have been a wonderfully fine sight, this flaming fire
in the midst of the white, frozen landscape. Captain Scott has since
given the island, on which the mountains lie, the name of Ross Island,
after the intrepid navigator.

Naturally there were great expectations on board. If they had
penetrated so far south, there might be no limit to their further
progress. But, as had happened so many times before, their hopes were
disappointed. From Ross Island, as far to the eastward as the eye
could see, there extended a lofty, impenetrable wall of ice. To sail
through it was as impossible as sailing through the cliffs of Dover,
Ross says in his description. All they could do was to try to get
round it. And then began the first examination of that part of the
great Antarctic Barrier which has since been named the Ross Barrier.

The wall of ice was followed to the eastward for a distance of 250
miles. Its upper surface was seen to be perfectly flat. The most
easterly point reached was long. 167° W., and the highest latitude
78° 4′ S. No opening having been found, the ships returned to the
west, in order to try once more whether there was any possibility of
reaching the Magnetic Pole. But this attempt soon had to be abandoned
on account of the lateness of the season, and in April, 1841, Ross
returned to Hobart.

His second voyage was full of dangers and thrilling incidents, but
added little to the tale of his discoveries.

On February 22, 1842, the ships came in sight of the Barrier, and,
following it to the east, found that it turned north-eastward. Here
Ross recorded an “appearance of land” in the very region in which
Captain Scott, sixty years later, discovered King Edward VII. Land.

On December 17, 1842, Ross set out on his third and last Antarctic
voyage. His object this time was to reach a high latitude along
the coast of Louis Philippe Land, if possible, or alternatively
by following Weddell’s track. Both attempts were frustrated by the
ice conditions.

On sighting Joinville Land, the officers of the Terror thought they
could see smoke from active volcanoes, but Ross and his men did not
confirm this. About fifty years later active volcanoes were actually
discovered by the Norwegian, Captain C. A. Larsen, in the Jason. A
few minor geographical discoveries were made, but none of any great

This concluded Ross’s attempts to reach the South Pole. A magnificent
work had been achieved, and the honour of having opened up the way
by which, at last, the Pole was reached must be ascribed to Ross.

The Pagoda, commanded by Lieutenant Moore, was the next vessel to make
for the South. Her chief object was to make magnetic observations in
high latitudes south of the Indian Ocean.

The first ice was met with in lat. 53° 30′ S., on January 25,1845. On
February 5 the Antarctic Circle was crossed in long. 30° 45′ E. The
most southerly latitude attained on this voyage was 67° 50′, in
long. 39°41′ E.

This was the last expedition to visit the Antarctic regions in a ship
propelled by sails alone.

The next great event in the history of the southern seas is the
Challenger expedition. This was an entirely scientific expedition,
splendidly equipped and conducted.

The achievements of this expedition are, however, so well known over
the whole civilized world that I do not think it necessary to dwell
upon them.

Less known, but no less efficient in their work, were the whalers
round the South Shetlands and in the regions to the south of them. The
days of sailing-ships were now past, and vessels with auxiliary steam
appear on the scene.

Before passing on to these, I must briefly mention a man who throughout
his life insisted on the necessity and utility of Antarctic expeditions
— Professor Georg von Neumayer.

Never has Antarctic research had a warmer, nobler, and more high-minded
champion. So long as “Antarctica” endures, the name of Neumayer will
always be connected with it.

The steam whaler Grцnland left Hamburg on July 22, 1872, in command
of Captain Eduard Dallmann, bound for the South Shetlands. Many
interesting geographical discoveries were made on this voyage.

Amongst other whalers may be mentioned the Balжna, the Diana, the
Active, and the Polar Star of Dundee.

In 1892 the whole of this fleet stood to the South to hunt for
whales in the vicinity of the South Shetlands. They each brought home
with them some fresh piece of information. On board the Balжna was
Dr. William S. Bruce. This is the first time we meet with him on his
way to the South, but it was not to be the last.

Simultaneously with the Scottish whaling fleet, the Norwegian whaling
captain, C. A. Larsen, appears in the regions to the south of the
South Shetlands. It is not too much to say of Captain Larsen that
of all those who have visited the Antarctic regions in search of
whales, he has unquestionably brought home the best and most abundant
scientific results. To him we owe the discovery of large stretches
of the east coast of Graham Land, King Oscar II. Land, Foyn’s Land,
etc. He brought us news of two active volcanoes, and many groups of
islands. But perhaps the greatest interest attaches to the fossils
he brought home from Seymour Island — the first to be obtained from
the Antarctic regions.

In November, 1894, Captain Evensen in the Hertha succeeded in
approaching nearer to Alexander I. Land than either Bellingshausen
or Biscoe. But the search for whales claimed his attention, and he
considered it his duty to devote himself to that before anything else.

A grand opportunity was lost: there can be no doubt that, if Captain
Evensen had been free, he would here have had a chance of achieving
even better work than he did — bold, capable, and enterprising as
he is.

The next whaling expedition to make its mark in the South Polar regions
is that of the Antarctic, under Captain Leonard Kristensen. Kristensen
was an extraordinarily capable man, and achieved the remarkable record
of being the first to set foot on the sixth continent, the great
southern land — “Antarctica.” This was at Cape Adare, Victoria Land,
in January, 1895.

An epoch-making phase of Antarctic research is now ushered in by the
Belgian expedition in the Belgica, under the leadership of Commander
Adrien de Gerlache. Hardly anyone has had a harder fight to set his
enterprise on foot than Gerlache. He was successful, however, and on
August 16, 1897, the Belgica left Antwerp.

The scientific staff had been chosen with great care, and Gerlache
had been able to secure the services of exceedingly able men. His
second in command, Lieutenant G. Lecointe, a Belgian, possessed every
qualification for his difficult position. It must be remembered that
the Belgica’s company was as cosmopolitan as it could be — Belgians,
Frenchmen, Americans, Norwegians, Swedes, Rumanians, Poles, etc. —
and it was the business of the second in command to keep all these
men together and get the best possible work out of them. And Lecointe
acquitted himself admirably; amiable and firm, he secured the respect
of all.

As a navigator and astronomer he was unsurpassable, and when he
afterwards took over the magnetic work he rendered great services in
this department also. Lecointe will always be remembered as one of
the main supports of this expedition.

Lieutenant Emile Danco, another Belgian, was the physicist of the
expedition. Unfortunately this gifted young man died at an early
stage of the voyage — a sad loss to the expedition. The magnetic
observations were then taken over by Lecointe.

The biologist was the Rumanian, Emile Racovitza. The immense mass
of material Racovitza brought home speaks better than I can for his
ability. Besides a keen interest in his work, he possessed qualities
which made him the most agreeable and interesting of companions.

Henryk Arзtowski and Antoine Dobrowolski were both Poles. Their share
of the work was the sky and the sea; they carried out oceanographical
and meteorological observations.

Henry Arзtowski was also the geologist of the expedition — an
all-round man. It was a strenuous task he had, that of constantly
watching wind and weather. Conscientious as he was, he never let slip
an opportunity of adding to the scientific results of the voyage.

Frederick A. Cook, of Brooklyn, was surgeon to the expedition
— beloved and respected by all. As a medical man, his calm and
convincing presence had an excellent effect. As things turned out,
the greatest responsibility fell upon Cook, but he mastered the
situation in a wonderful way. Through his practical qualities he
finally became indispensable. It cannot be denied that the Belgian
Antarctic expedition owes a great debt to Cook.

The object of the expedition was to penetrate to the South Magnetic
Pole, but this had to be abandoned at an early stage for want of time.

A somewhat long stay in the interesting channels of Tierra del Fuego
delayed their departure till January 13, 1898. On that date the
Belgica left Staten Island and stood to the South.

An interesting series of soundings was made between Cape Horn and the
South Shetlands. As these waters had not previously been investigated,
these soundings were, of course, of great importance.

The principal work of the expedition, from a geographical point of
view, was carried out on the north coast of Graham Land.

A large channel running to the south-west was discovered, dividing a
part of Palmer Land from the mainland — Danco’s Land. The strait was
afterwards named by the Belgian authorities “Gerlache Strait.” Three
weeks were spent in charting it and making scientific observations. An
excellent collection of material was made.

This work was completed by February 12, and the Belgica left Gerlache
Strait southward along the coast of Graham Land, at a date when all
previous expeditions had been in a hurry to turn their faces homeward.

On the 15th the Antarctic Circle was crossed on a south-westerly
course. Next day they sighted Alexander Land, but could not approach
nearer to it than twenty miles on account of impenetrable pack-ice.

On February 28 they had reached lat. 70° 20′ S. and long. 85° W. Then a
breeze from the north sprang up and opened large channels in the ice,
leading southward. They turned to the south, and plunged at haphazard
into the Antarctic floes.

On March 3 they reached lat. 70° 30′ S., where all further progress
was hopeless. An attempt to get out again was in vain — they were
caught in the trap. They then had to make the best of it.

Many have been disposed to blame Gerlache for having gone into the ice,
badly equipped as he was, at a time of year when he ought rather to
have been making his way out, and they may be right. But let us look
at the question from the other side as well.

After years of effort he had at last succeeded in getting the
expedition away. Gerlache knew for a certainty that unless he returned
with results that would please the public, he might just as well never
return at all. Then the thickly packed ice opened, and long channels
appeared, leading as far southward as the eye could reach. Who could
tell? Perhaps they led to the Pole itself. There was little to lose,
much to gain; he decided to risk it.

Of course, it was not right, but we can easily understand it.

The Belgica now had thirteen long months before her. Preparations
were commenced at once for the winter. As many seals and penguins as
could be found were shot, and placed in store.

The scientific staff was constantly active, and brilliant
oceanographical, meteorological, and magnetic work was accomplished.

On May 17 the sun disappeared, not to be seen again for seventy
days. The first Antarctic night had begun. What would it bring? The
Belgica was not fitted for wintering in the ice. For one thing,
personal equipment was insufficient. They had to do the best they
could by making clothes out of blankets, and the most extraordinary
devices were contrived in the course of the winter. Necessity is the
mother of invention.

On June 5 Danco died of heart-failure.

On the same day they had a narrow escape of being squeezed in the
ice. Fortunately the enormous block of ice passed under the vessel
and lifted her up without doing her any damage. Otherwise, the first
part of the winter passed off well.

Afterwards sickness appeared, and threatened the most serious danger
to the expedition — scurvy and insanity. One of them by itself would
have been bad enough. Scurvy especially increased, and did such havoc
that finally there was not a single man who escaped being attacked
by this fearful disease.

Cook’s behaviour at this time won the respect and devotion of
all. It is not too much to say that Cook was the most popular man
of the expedition, and he deserved it. From morning to night he
was occupied with his many patients, and when the sun returned it
happened not infrequently that, after a strenuous day’s work, the
doctor sacrificed his night’s sleep to go hunting seals and penguins,
in order to provide the fresh meat that was so greatly needed by all.

On July 22 the sun returned.

It was not a pleasant sight that it shone upon. The Antarctic winter
had set its mark upon all, and green, wasted faces stared at the
returning light.

Time went on, and the summer arrived. They waited day by day to see a
change in the ice. But no; the ice they had entered so light-heartedly
was not to be so easy to get out of again.

New Year’s Day came and went without any change in the ice.

The situation now began to be seriously threatening. Another winter
in the ice would mean death and destruction on a large scale. Disease
and insufficient nourishment would soon make an end of most of the
ship’s company.

Again Cook came to the aid of the expedition.

In conjunction with Racovitza he had thought out a very ingenious way
of sawing a channel, and thus reaching the nearest lead. The proposal
was submitted to the leader of the expedition and accepted by him;
both the plan and the method of carrying it out were well considered.

After three weeks’ hard work, day and night, they at last reached
the lead.

Cook was incontestably the leading spirit in this work, and gained
such honour among the members of the expedition that I think it just
to mention it. Upright, honourable, capable, and conscientious in
the extreme — such is the memory we retain of Frederick A. Cook from
those days.

Little did his comrades suspect that a few years later he would be
regarded as one of the greatest humbugs the world has ever seen. This
is a psychological enigma well worth studying to those who care to
do so.

But the Belgica was not yet clear of the ice. After having worked
her way out into the lead and a little way on, she was stopped by
absolutely close pack, within sight of the open sea.

For a whole month the expedition lay here, reaping the same experiences
as Ross on his second voyage with the Erebus and Terror. The immense
seas raised the heavy ice high in the air, and flung it against the
sides of the vessel. That month was a hell upon earth. Strangely
enough, the Belgica escaped undamaged, and steamed into Punta Arenas
in the Straits of Magellan on March 28, 1899.

Modern scientific Antarctic exploration had now been initiated,
and de Gerlache had won his place for all time in the first rank of
Antarctic explorers.

While the Belgica was trying her hardest to get out of the ice,
another vessel was making equally strenuous efforts to get in. This
was the Southern Cross, the ship of the English expedition, under the
leadership of Carstens Borchgrevink. This expedition’s field of work
lay on the opposite side of the Pole, in Ross’s footsteps.

On February 11, 1899, the Southern Cross entered Ross Sea in lat. 70°
S. and long. 174° E., nearly sixty years after Ross had left it.

A party was landed at Cape Adare, where it wintered. The ship wintered
in New Zealand.

In January, 1900, the land party was taken off, and an examination
of the Barrier was carried out with the vessel. This expedition
succeeded for the first time in ascending the Barrier, which from
Ross’s day had been looked upon as inaccessible. The Barrier formed
a little bight at the spot where the landing was made, and the ice
sloped gradually down to the sea.

We must acknowledge that by ascending the Barrier, Borchgrevink
opened a way to the south, and threw aside the greatest obstacle
to the expeditions that followed. The Southern Cross returned to
civilization in March, 1900.

The Valdivia’s expedition, under Professor Chun, of Leipzig, must
be mentioned, though in our day it can hardly be regarded as an
Antarctic expedition. On this voyage the position of Bouvet Island
was established once for all as lat. 54° 26′ S., long. 3° 24′ E.

The ice was followed from long. 8° E. to 58° E., as closely as the
vessel could venture to approach. Abundance of oceanographical material
was brought home.

Antarctic exploration now shoots rapidly ahead, and the twentieth
century opens with the splendidly equipped British and German
expeditions in the Discovery and the Gauss, both national undertakings.

Captain Robert F. Scott was given command of the Discovery’s
expedition, and it could not have been placed in better hands.

The second in command was Lieutenant Armitage, who had taken part in
the Jackson-Harmsworth North Polar expedition.

The other officers were Royds, Barne, and Shackleton.

Lieutenant Skelton was chief engineer and photographer to the
expedition. Two surgeons were on board — Dr. Koettlitz, a former
member of the Jackson-Harmsworth expedition, and Dr. Wilson. The latter
was also the artist of the expedition. Bernacchi was the physicist,
Hodgson the biologist, and Ferrar the geologist.

On August 6, 1901, the expedition left Cowes, and arrived at Simon’s
Bay on October 3. On the 14th it sailed again for New Zealand.

The official plan was to determine as accurately as possible the
nature and extent of the South Polar lands that might be found, and
to make a magnetic survey. It was left to the leader of the expedition
to decide whether it should winter in the ice.

It was arranged beforehand that a relief ship should visit and
communicate with the expedition in the following year.

The first ice was met with in the neighbourhood of the Antarctic
Circle on January 1, 1902, and a few days later the open Ross Sea
was reached. After several landings had been made at Cape Adare and
other points, the Discovery made a very interesting examination of
the Barrier to the eastward. At this part of the voyage King Edward
VII. Land was discovered, but the thick ice-floes prevented the
expedition from landing. On the way back the ship entered the same
bight that Borchgrevink had visited in 1900, and a balloon ascent
was made on the Barrier. The bay was called Balloon Inlet.

From here the ship returned to McMurdo Bay, so named by Ross. Here
the Discovery wintered, in a far higher latitude than any previous
expedition. In the course of the autumn it was discovered that the
land on which the expedition had its winter quarters was an island,
separated from the mainland by McMurdo Sound. It was given the name
of Ross Island.

Sledge journeys began with the spring. Depots were laid down, and
the final march to the South was begun on November 2, 1902, by Scott,
Shackleton, and Wilson.

They had nineteen dogs to begin with. On November 27 they passed the
80th parallel. Owing to the nature of the ground their progress was
not rapid; the highest latitude was reached on December 30 — 82°
17′ S. New land was discovered — a continuation of South Victoria
Land. One summit after another rose higher and higher to the south.

The return journey was a difficult one. The dogs succumbed one after
another, and the men themselves had to draw the sledges. It went
well enough so long as all were in health; but suddenly Shackleton
was incapacitated by scurvy, and there were only two left to pull
the sledges.

On February 3 they reached the ship again, after an absence of
ninety-three days.

Meanwhile Armitage and Skelton had reached, for the first time in
history, the high Antarctic inland plateau at an altitude of 9,000
feet above the sea.

The relief ship Morning had left Lyttelton on December 9. On her way
south Scott Island was discovered, and on January 25 the Discovery’s
masts were seen. But McMurdo Sound lay icebound all that year, and
the Morning returned home on March 3.

The expedition passed a second winter in the ice, and in the following
spring Captain Scott led a sledge journey to the west on the ice
plateau. In January, 1904, the Morning returned, accompanied by the
Terra Nova, formerly a Newfoundland sealing vessel. They brought
orders from home that the Discovery was to be abandoned if she could
not be got out. Preparations were made for carrying out the order,
but finally, after explosives had been used, a sudden break-up of
the ice set the vessel free.

All the coal that could be spared was put on board the Discovery from
the relief ships, and Scott carried his researches further. If at that
time he had had more coal, it is probable that this active explorer
would have accomplished even greater things than he did. Wilkes’s
“Ringgold’s Knoll” and “Eld’s Peak” were wiped off the map, and
nothing was seen of “Cape Hudson,” though the Discovery passed well
within sight of its supposed position.

On March 14 Scott anchored in Ross Harbour, Auckland Islands. With
rich results, the expedition returned home in September, 1904.

Meanwhile the German expedition under Professor Erich von Drygalski
had been doing excellent work in another quarter.

The plan of the expedition was to explore the Antarctic regions to
the south of Kerguelen Land, after having first built a station on
that island and landed a scientific staff, who were to work there,
while the main expedition proceeded into the ice. Its ship, the Gauss,
had been built at Kiel with the Fram as a model.

The Gauss’s navigator was Captain Hans Ruser, a skilful seaman of
the Hamburg-American line.

Drygalski had chosen his scientific staff with knowledge and care,
and it is certain that he could not have obtained better assistants.

The expedition left Kiel on August 11, 1901, bound for Cape Town. An
extraordinarily complete oceanographical, meteorological, and magnetic
survey was made during this part of the voyage.

After visiting the Crozet Islands, the Gauss anchored in Royal Sound,
Kerguelen Land, on December 31. The expedition stayed here a month,
and then steered for the south to explore the regions between Kemp
Land and Knox Land. They had already encountered a number of bergs
in lat. 60° S.

On February 14 they made a sounding of 1,730 fathoms near the supposed
position of Wilkes’s Termination Land. Progress was very slow hereabout
on account of the thick floes.

Suddenly, on February 19, they had a sounding of 132 fathoms, and on
the morning of February 21 land was sighted, entirely covered with
ice and snow. A violent storm took the Gauss by surprise, collected
a mass of icebergs around her, and filled up the intervening space
with floes, so that there could be no question of making any way. They
had to swallow the bitter pill, and prepare to spend the winter where
they were.

Observatories were built of ice, and sledge journeys were undertaken as
soon as the surface permitted. They reached land in three and a half
days, and there discovered a bare mountain, about 1,000 feet high,
fifty miles from the ship. The land was named Kaiser Wilhelm II. Land,
and the mountain the Gaussberg.

They occupied the winter in observations of every possible kind. The
weather was extremely stormy and severe, but their winter harbour,
under the lee of great stranded bergs, proved to be a good one. They
were never once exposed to unpleasant surprises.

On February 8, 1903, the Gauss was able to begin to move again. From
the time she reached the open sea until her arrival at Cape Town on
June 9, scientific observations were continued.

High land had been seen to the eastward on the bearing of Wilkes’s
Termination Land, and an amount of scientific work had been
accomplished of which the German nation may well be proud. Few
Antarctic expeditions have had such a thoroughly scientific equipment
as that of the Gauss, both as regards appliances and personnel.

The Swedish Antarctic expedition under Dr. Otto Nordenskjцld left
Gothenburg on October 16, 1901, in the Antarctic, commanded by Captain
C. A. Larsen, already mentioned. The scientific staff was composed
of nine specialists.

After calling at the Falkland Islands and Staten Island, a course was
made for the South Shetlands, which came in sight on January 10, 1902.

After exploring the coast of Louis Philippe Land, the ship visited
Weddell Sea in the hope of getting southward along King Oscar II. Land,
but the ice conditions were difficult, and it was impossible to reach
the coast.

Nordenskjцld and five men were then landed on Snow Hill Island, with
materials for an observatory and winter quarters and the necessary
provisions. The ship continued her course northward to the open sea.

The first winter on Snow Hill Island was unusually stormy and cold, but
during the spring several interesting sledge journeys were made. When
summer arrived the Antarctic did not appear, and the land party were
obliged to prepare for a second winter. In the following spring,
October, 1903, Nordenskjцld made a sledge journey to explore the
neighbourhood of Mount Haddington, and a closer examination showed
that the mountain lay on an island. In attempting to work round this
island, he one day stumbled upon three figures, doubtfully human,
which might at first sight have been taken for some of our African
brethren straying thus far to the south.

It took Nordenskjцld a long time to recognize in these beings
Dr. Gunnar Andersson, Lieutenant Duse, and their companion during
the winter, a Norwegian sailor named Grunden.

The way it came about was this. The Antarctic had made repeated
attempts to reach the winter station, but the state of the ice was
bad, and they had to give up the idea of getting through. Andersson,
Duse and Grunden were then landed in the vicinity, to bring news
to the winter quarters as soon as the ice permitted them to arrive
there. They had been obliged to build themselves a stone hut, in
which they had passed the winter.

This experience is one of the most interesting one can read of
in the history of the Polar regions. Badly equipped as they were,
they had to have recourse, like Robinson Crusoe, to their inventive
faculties. The most extraordinary contrivances were devised in the
course of the winter, and when spring came the three men stepped out
of their hole, well and hearty, ready to tackle their work.

This was such a remarkable feat that everyone who has some knowledge
of Polar conditions must yield them his admiration. But there is more
to tell.

On November 8, when both parties were united at Snow Hill, they
were unexpectedly joined by Captain Irizar, of the Argentine gunboat
Uruguay, and one of his officers. Some anxiety had been felt owing to
the absence of news of the Antarctic, and the Argentine Government
had sent the Uruguay to the South to search for the expedition. But
what in the world had become of Captain Larsen and the Antarctic? This
was the question the others asked themselves.

The same night — it sounds almost incredible — there was a knock
at the door of the hut, and in walked Captain Larsen with five of his
men. They brought the sad intelligence that the good ship Antarctic
was no more. The crew had saved themselves on the nearest island,
while the vessel sank, severely damaged by ice.

They, too, had had to build themselves a stone hut and get through the
winter as best they could. They certainly did not have an easy time,
and I can imagine that the responsibility weighed heavily on him who
had to bear it. One man died; the others came through it well.

Much of the excellent material collected by the expedition was lost
by the sinking of the Antarctic, but a good deal was brought home.

Both from a scientific and from a popular point of view this expedition
may be considered one of the most interesting the South Polar regions
have to show.

We then come to the Scotsman, Dr. William S. Bruce, in the Scotia.

We have met with Bruce before: first in the Balжna in 1892, and
afterwards with Mr. Andrew Coats in Spitzbergen. The latter voyage
was a fortunate one for Bruce, as it provided him with the means of
fitting out his expedition in the Scotia to Antarctic waters.

The vessel left the Clyde on November 2,1902, under the command of
Captain Thomas Robertson, of Dundee. Bruce had secured the assistance
of Mossman, Rudmose Brown and Dr. Pirie for the scientific work. In
the following February the Antarctic Circle was crossed, and on the
22nd of that month the ship was brought to a standstill in lat. 70°
25′ S. The winter was spent at Laurie Island, one of the South Orkneys.

Returning to the south, the Scotia reached, in March, 1904, lat. 74° 1′
S., long. 22° W., where the sea rapidly shoaled to 159 fathoms. Further
progress was impossible owing to ice. Hilly country was sighted beyond
the barrier, and named “Coats Land,” after Bruce’s chief supporters.

In the foremost rank of the Antarctic explorers of our time stands
the French savant and yachtsman, Dr. Jean Charcot. In the course of
his two expeditions of 1903 — 1905 and 1908 — 1910 he succeeded in
opening up a large extent of the unknown continent. We owe to him
a closer acquaintance with Alexander I. Land, and the discovery of
Loubet, Falliиres and Charcot Lands is also his work.

His expeditions were splendidly equipped, and the scientific results
were extraordinarily rich. The point that compels our special
admiration in Charcot’s voyages is that he chose one of the most
difficult fields of the Antarctic zone to work in. The ice conditions
here are extremely unfavourable, and navigation in the highest degree
risky. A coast full of submerged reefs and a sea strewn with icebergs
was what the Frenchmen had to contend with. The exploration of such
regions demands capable men and stout vessels.

Sir Ernest Shackleton! — the name has a brisk sound. At its mere
mention we see before us a man of indomitable will and boundless
courage. He has shown us what the will and energy of a single man
can perform. He gained his first experience of Antarctic exploration
as a member of the British expedition in the Discovery, under Captain
Scott. It was a good school. Scott, Wilson, and Shackleton, formed the
southern party, with the highest latitude as their goal. They reached
82° 17′ S. — a great record at that time. Being attacked by scurvy,
Shackleton had to go home at the first opportunity.

Shortly after his return Shackleton began to make active
preparations. Few people had any faith in Shackleton. Wasn’t it
he who was sent home from the Discovery after the first year? What
does he want to go out for again? He has shown well enough that he
can’t stand the work! Shackleton had a hard struggle to find the
necessary funds. He left England unheeded and loaded with debts in
August, 1907, on board the Nimrod, bound for the South Pole. With
surprising frankness he declared his intention of trying to reach the
Pole itself. So far as I know, he was the first who ventured to say
straight out that the Pole was his object. This hearty frankness was
the first thing that struck me, and made me look more closely at the
man. Later on I followed his steps with the greatest interest. The
expedition, unnoticed when it left England, was soon forgotten. At
most, people connected the name of Shackleton with the rank of
“Lieutenant R.N.R.” And the months went by ….

Then suddenly came a piece of news that made a great stir. It was in
the latter half of March, 1909. The telegraphic instruments were busy
all over the world; letter by letter, word by word, they ticked out the
message, until it could be clearly read that one of the most wonderful
achievements of Polar exploration had been accomplished. Everyone was
spellbound. Was it possible? Could it be true? Shackleton, Lieutenant
R.N.R., had fought his way to lat. 88° 23′ S.

Seldom has a man enjoyed a greater triumph; seldom has a man deserved
it better.

As the details of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition will be fresh
in the minds of English readers, it is unnecessary to recapitulate
them here. A few points may, however, be noted, for comparison with
the Fram’s expedition.

The plan was to leave New Zealand at the beginning of 1908 and go
into winter quarters on the Antarctic continent with the necessary
provisions and equipment, while the vessel returned to New Zealand
and came back to take off the land party in the following year.

The land party that wintered in the South was divided into three. One
party was to go eastward to King Edward VII. Land and explore it,
the second was to go westward to the South Magnetic Pole, and the
third southward toward the Geographical Pole.

In the plan submitted to the Royal Geographical Society Shackleton
says: “I do not intend to sacrifice the scientific utility of the
expedition to a mere record-breaking journey, but say frankly, all
the same, that one of my great efforts will be to reach the Southern
Geographical Pole.”

It was further intended that the Nimrod should explore Wilkes Land.

As draught animals Shackleton had both ponies and dogs, but chiefly
ponies. The dogs were regarded more as a reserve. Shackleton’s
experience was that the Ice Barrier was best suited for ponies. They
also took a motor-car, besides the usual equipment of sledges, ski,
tents, etc.

Leaving Lyttelton on January 1, 1908, the Nimrod reached the ice-pack
on the 15th, and arrived in the open Ross Sea in lat. 70° 43′ S.,
long. 178° 58′ E. The Ross Barrier was sighted on January 23. The
original intention was to follow this, and try to land the shore party
in Barrier Inlet, which was practically the beginning of King Edward
VII. Land; but it was found that Barrier Inlet had disappeared, owing
to miles of the Barrier having calved away. In its place was a long,
wide bay, which Shackleton named the Bay of Whales. This discovery
determined him not to attempt to winter on the Barrier, but on solid
land. At this part of the voyage the course of the Nimrod coincided
very nearly with that of the Fram on her second outward trip.

After an unsuccessful attempt to reach King Edward VII. Land,
Shackleton turned to the west and took up his winter quarters on Ross
Island in McMurdo Sound.

The southern party, composed of Shackleton, Adams, Marshall, and
Wild, started on October 29, 1908, with four sledges, four ponies,
and provisions for ninety-one days. On November 26 Scott’s farthest
south, 82° 17′ S. was passed. By the time lat. 84° was reached all the
ponies were dead, and the men had to draw the sledges themselves. They
were then faced by the long and difficult ascent of Beardmore Glacier,
and it was not until seventeen days later that they came out on the
high plateau surrounding the Pole. At last, on January 9, 1909, they
were compelled to return by shortness of provisions, having planted
Queen Alexandra’s flag in lat. 88° 23′ S., long. 162° E.

Everyone who reads Shackleton’s diary must feel a boundless admiration
for these four heroes. History can scarcely show a clearer proof of
what men can accomplish when they exert their full strength of will
and body. These men have raised a monument, not only to themselves
and their achievement, but also to the honour of their native land
and the whole of civilized humanity.

Shackleton’s exploit is the most brilliant incident in the history
of Antarctic exploration.

The distance covered, out and back, was 1,530 geographical miles. The
time occupied was 127 days — 73 days out and 54 days back. The
average daily march was about 12 miles.

Meanwhile the other party, composed of Professor David, Mawson,
and Mackay, had set off to determine the position of the South
Magnetic Pole. They had neither ponies nor dogs, and had therefore
to depend solely on their own powers. It seems almost incredible,
but these men succeeded in working their way on foot over sea-ice
and land-ice, cracks and crevasses, hard snow and loose snow, to the
Magnetic Pole, and making observations there. What was better still,
they all came back safe and sound. The total distance covered was
1,260 geographical miles.

It must have been a proud day for the two parties of the expedition
when they met again on the deck of the Nimrod, and could tell each
other of their experiences. More than any of their predecessors,
these men had succeeded in raising the veil that lay over “Antarctica.”

But a little corner remained.


Plan and Preparations

“The deity of success is a woman, and she insists on being won,
not courted. You’ve got to seize her and bear her off, instead of
standing under her window with a mandolin.” — Rex Beach.

“The North Pole is reached.”

In a flash the news spread over the world. The goal of which so
many had dreamed, for which so many had laboured and suffered and
sacrificed their lives, was attained. It was in September, 1909,
that the news reached us.

At the same instant I saw quite clearly that the original plan of
the Fram’s third voyage — the exploration of the North Polar basin
— hung in the balance. If the expedition was to be saved, it was
necessary to act quickly and without hesitation. Just as rapidly as
the message had travelled over the cables I decided on my change of
front — to turn to the right-about, and face to the South.

It was true that I had announced in my plan that the Fram’s third
voyage would be in every way a scientific expedition, and would have
nothing to do with record-breaking; it was also true that many of
the contributors who had so warmly supported me had done so with the
original plan before them; but in view of the altered circumstances,
and the small prospect I now had of obtaining funds for my original
plan, I considered it neither mean nor unfair to my supporters to
strike a blow that would at once put the whole enterprise on its feet,
retrieve the heavy expenses that the expedition had already incurred,
and save the contributions from being wasted.

It was therefore with a clear conscience that I decided to postpone
my original plan for a year or two, in order to try in the meantime
to raise the funds that were still lacking. The North Pole, the
last problem but one of popular interest in Polar exploration,
was solved. If I was now to succeed in arousing interest in my
undertaking, there was nothing left for me but to try to solve the
last great problem — the South Pole.

I know that I have been reproached for not having at once made
the extended plan public, so that not only my supporters, but the
explorers who were preparing to visit the same regions might have
knowledge of it. I was well aware that these reproaches would come,
and had therefore carefully weighed this side of the matter. As
regards the former — the contributors to my expedition — my mind
was soon at rest. They were all men of position, and above discussing
the application of the sums they had dedicated to the enterprise. I
knew that I enjoyed such confidence among these people that they
would all judge the circumstances aright, and know that when the time
came their contributions would be used for the purpose for which they
were given. And I have already received countless proofs that I was
not mistaken.

Nor did I feel any great scruples with regard to the other Antarctic
expeditions that were being planned at the time. I knew I should be
able to inform Captain Scott of the extension of my plans before he
left civilization, and therefore a few months sooner or later could
be of no great importance. Scott’s plan and equipment were so widely
different from my own that I regarded the telegram that I sent him
later, with the information that we were bound for the Antarctic
regions, rather as a mark of courtesy than as a communication which
might cause him to alter his programme in the slightest degree. The
British expedition was designed entirely for scientific research. The
Pole was only a side-issue, whereas in my extended plan it was the
main object. On this little dйtour science would have to look after
itself; but of course I knew very well that we could not reach the
Pole by the route I had determined to take without enriching in a
considerable degree several branches of science.

Our preparations were entirely different, and I doubt whether Captain
Scott, with his great knowledge of Antarctic exploration, would
have departed in any point from the experience he had gained and
altered his equipment in accordance with that which I found it best
to employ. For I came far short of Scott both in experience and means.

As regards Lieutenant Shirase in the Kainan Maru, I understood it to
be his plan to devote his whole attention to King Edward VII. Land.

After thus thoroughly considering these questions, I came to the
conclusions I have stated, and my plan was irrevocably fixed. If at
that juncture I had made my intention public, it would only have given
occasion for a lot of newspaper discussion, and possibly have ended
in the project being stifled at its birth. Everything had to be got
ready quietly and calmly. My brother, upon whose absolute silence
I could blindly rely, was the only person I let into the secret of
my change of plan, and he did me many important services during the
time when we alone shared the knowledge. Then Lieutenant Thorvald
Nilsen — at that time first officer of the Fram, now her commander —
returned home, and I considered it my duty to inform him immediately
of my resolve. The way in which he received it made me feel safe in
my choice of him. I saw that in him I had found not only a capable
and trustworthy man, but a good comrade as well; and this was a point
of the highest importance. If the relations between the chief and the
second in command are good, much unpleasantness and many unnecessary
worries can be avoided. Besides which, a good understanding in this
quarter gives an example to the whole ship. It was a great relief to
me when Captain Nilsen came home in January, 1910, and was able to
help — which he did with a good will, a capability, and a reliability
that I have no words to commend.

The following was the plan of the Fram’s southern voyage: Departure
from Norway at latest before the middle of August. Madeira was to be
the first and only place of call. From there a course was to be made on
the best route for a sailing-ship — for the Fram cannot be regarded
as anything else — southward through the Atlantic, and then to the
east, passing to the south of the Cape of Good Hope and Australia,
and finally pushing through the pack and into Ross Sea about New
Year, 1911.

As a base of operations I had chosen the most southerly point we could
reach with the vessel — the Bay of Whales in the great Antarctic
Barrier. We hoped to arrive here about January 15. After having
landed the selected shore party — about ten men — with materials
for a house, equipment, and provisions for two years, the Fram was
to go out again and up to Buenos Aires, in order to carry out from
there an oceanographical voyage across the Atlantic to the coast of
Africa and back. In October she was to return to the Bay of Whales
and take off the shore party. So much, but no more, could be settled
beforehand. The further progress of the expedition could only be
determined later, when the work in the South was finished.

My knowledge of the Ross Barrier was due to descriptions alone;
but I had so carefully studied all the literature that treats of
these regions, that, on first encountering this mighty mass of ice,
I felt as if I had known it for many years.

After thorough consideration, I fixed upon the Bay of Whales as a
winter station, for several reasons. In the first place, because we
could there go farther south in the ship than at any other point
— a whole degree farther south than Scott could hope to get in
McMurdo Sound, where he was to have his station. And this would be
of very great importance in the subsequent sledge journey toward the
Pole. Another great advantage was that we came right on to our field
of work, and could see from our hut door the conditions and surface we
should have to deal with. Besides this, I was justified in supposing
that the surface southward from this part of the Barrier would be
considerably better, and offer fewer difficulties than the piled-up
ice along the land. In addition, animal life in the Bay of Whales was,
according to the descriptions, extraordinarily rich, and offered all
the fresh meat we required in the form of seals, penguins, etc.

Besides these purely technical and material advantages which the
Barrier seemed to possess as a winter station, it offered a specially
favourable site for an investigation of the meteorological conditions,
since here one would be unobstructed by land on all sides. It would be
possible to study the character of the Barrier by daily observations on
the very spot better than anywhere else. Such interesting phenomena as
the movement, feeding, and calving of this immense mass of ice could,
of course, be studied very fully at this spot.

Last, but not least, there was the enormous advantage that it was
comparatively easy to reach in the vessel. No expedition had yet been
prevented from coming in here.

I knew that this plan of wintering on the Barrier itself would be
exposed to severe criticism as recklessness, foolhardiness, and so
forth, for it was generally assumed that the Barrier was afloat here,
as in other places. Indeed, it was thought to be so even by those who
had themselves seen it. Shackleton’s description of the conditions
at the time of his visit did not seem very promising. Mile after
mile had broken away, and he thanked God he had not made his camp
there. Although I have a very great regard for Shackleton, his work
and his experience, I believe that in this case his conclusion was
too hasty — fortunately, I must add. For if, when Shackleton passed
the Bay of Whales on January, 24, 1908, and saw the ice of the bay in
process of breaking up and drifting out, he had waited a few hours,
or at the most a couple of days, the problem of the South Pole would
probably have been solved long before December, 1911. With his keen
sight and sound judgment, it would not have taken him long to determine
that the inner part of the bay does not consist of floating barrier,
but that the Barrier there rests upon a good, solid foundation,
probably in the form of small islands, skerries, or shoals, and from
this point he and his able companions would have disposed of the South
Polar question once for all. But circumstances willed it otherwise,
and the veil was only lifted, not torn away.

I had devoted special study to this peculiar formation in the Barrier,
and had arrived at the conclusion that the inlet that exists to-day in
the Ross Barrier under the name of the Bay of Whales is nothing else
than the self-same bight that was observed by Sir James Clark Ross
— no doubt with great changes of outline, but still the same. For
seventy years, then, this formation — with the exception of the
pieces that had broken away — had persisted in the same place. I
therefore concluded that it could be no accidental formation. What,
once, in the dawn of time, arrested the mighty stream of ice at this
spot and formed a lasting bay in its edge, which with few exceptions
runs in an almost straight line, was not merely a passing whim of
the fearful force that came crashing on, but something even stronger
than that — something that was firmer than the hard ice — namely,
the solid land. Here in this spot, then, the Barrier piled itself up
and formed the bay we now call the Bay of Whales. The observations we
made during our stay there confirm the correctness of this theory. I
therefore had no misgivings in placing our station on this part of
the Barrier.

The plan of the shore party was, as soon as the hut was built and
provisions landed, to carry supplies into the field, and lay down
depots as far to the south as possible. I hoped to get such a quantity
of provisions brought down to lat. 80° S., that we should be able to
regard this latitude as the real starting-place of the actual sledge
journey to the Pole. We shall see later that this hope was more than
fulfilled, and a labour many times greater than this was performed. By
the time this depot work was accomplished winter would be before us,
and with the knowledge we had of the conditions in the Antarctic
regions, every precaution would have to be taken to meet the coldest
and probably the most stormy weather that any Polar expedition had
hitherto encountered. My object was, when winter had once set in, and
everything in the station was in good working order, to concentrate
all our forces upon the one object — that of reaching the Pole.

I intended to try to get people with me who were specially fitted for
outdoor work in the cold. Even more necessary was it to find men who
were experienced dog-drivers; I saw what a decisive bearing this would
have on the result. There are advantages and disadvantages in having
experienced people with one on an expedition like this. The advantages
are obvious. If a variety of experiences are brought together and
used with common sense, of course a great deal can be achieved. The
experience of one man will often come in opportunely where that
of another falls short. The experiences of several will supplement
each other, and form something like a perfect whole; this is what I
hoped to obtain. But there is no rose without a thorn; if it has its
advantages, it also has its drawbacks. The drawback to which one is
liable in this case is that someone or other may think he possesses
so much experience that every opinion but his own is worthless. It
is, of course, regrettable when experience takes this turn, but
with patience and common sense it can be broken of it. In any case,
the advantages are so great and predominant that I had determined
to have experienced men to the greatest extent possible. It was my
plan to devote the entire winter to working at our outfit, and to
get it as near to perfection as possible. Another thing to which we
should have to give some time was the killing of a sufficient number
of seals to provide fresh meat both for ourselves and our dogs for
the whole time. Scurvy, the worst enemy of Polar expeditions, must
be kept off at all costs, and to achieve this it was my intention
to use fresh meat every day. It proved easy to carry out this rule,
since everyone, without exception, preferred seal meat to tinned
foods. And when spring came I hoped that my companions and I would
be ready, fit and well, with an outfit complete in every way.

The plan was to leave the station as early in the spring as
possible. If we had set out to capture this record, we must at any
cost get there first. Everything must be staked upon this. From the
very moment when I had formed the plan, I had made up my mind that
our course from the Bay of Whales must be set due south, and follow
the same meridian, if possible, right up to the Pole. The effect
of this would be that we should traverse an entirely new region,
and gain other results besides beating the record.

I was greatly astonished to hear, on my return from the South, that
some people had actually believed we had set our course from the Bay
of Whales for Beardmore Glacier — Shackleton’s route — and followed
it to the south. Let me hasten to assure them that this idea never
for a single instant crossed my mind when I made the plan. Scott
had announced that he was going to take Shackleton’s route, and that
decided the matter. During our long stay at Framheim not one of us
ever hinted at the possibility of such a course. Without discussion
Scott’s route was declared out of bounds.

No; due south was our way, and the country would have to be difficult
indeed to stop our getting on to the plateau. Our plan was to go
south, and not to leave the meridian unless we were forced to do so
by insuperable difficulties. I foresaw, of course, that there would
be some who would attack me and accuse me of “shabby rivalry,” etc.,
and they would perhaps have had some shadow of justification if we had
really thought of taking Captain Scott’s route. But it never occurred
to us for a moment. Our starting-point lay 350 geographical miles from
Scott’s winter quarters in McMurdo Sound, so there could be no question
of encroaching upon his sphere of action. Moreover, Professor Nansen,
in his direct and convincing way, has put an end once for all to this
twaddle, so that I need not dwell upon it any longer.

I worked out the plan, as here given, at my home on Bundefjord, near
Christiania, in September, 1909, and as it was laid, so was it carried
out to the last detail. That my estimate of the time it would take
was not so very far out is proved by the final sentence of the plan:
“Thus we shall be back from the Polar journey on January 25.” It was
on January 25, 1912, that we came into Framheim after our successful
journey to the Pole.

This was not the only time our calculations proved correct; Captain
Nilsen showed himself to be a veritable magician in this way. While I
contented myself with reckoning dates, he did not hesitate to go into
hours. He calculated that we should reach the Barrier on January 15,
1911; this is a distance of 16,000 geographical miles from Norway. We
were at the Barrier on January 14, one day before the time. There
was not much wrong with that estimate.

In accordance with the Storthing’s resolution of February 9, 1909,
the Fram was lent for the use of the expedition, and a sum of 75,000
kroner (4,132 pounds sterling) was voted for repairs and necessary

The provisions were chosen with the greatest care, and packed with
every precaution. All groceries were soldered in tin boxes, and then
enclosed in strong wooden cases. The packing of tinned provisions
is of enormous importance to a Polar expedition; it is impossible to
give too much attention to this part of the supplies. Any carelessness,
any perfunctory packing on the part of the factory, will as a rule lead
to scurvy. It is an interesting fact that on the four Norwegian Polar
expeditions — the three voyages of the Fram and the Gjцa’s voyage —
not a single case of scurvy occurred. This is good evidence of the
care with which these expeditions were provisioned.

In this matter we owe a deep debt of gratitude above all to Professor
Sophus Torup, who has always been the supervising authority in the
matter of provisioning, this time as well as on the former occasions.

Great praise is also due to the factories that supplied our tinned
goods. By their excellent and conscientious work they deserved well
of the expedition. In this case a part of the supplies was entrusted
to a Stavanger factory, which, in addition to the goods supplied to
order, with great generosity placed at the disposal of the expedition
provisions to the value of 2,000 kroner (Ј110). The other half of the
tinned foods required was ordered from a firm at Moss. The manager
of this firm undertook at the same time to prepare the necessary
pemmican for men and dogs, and executed this commission in a way that
I cannot sufficiently praise. Thanks to this excellent preparation,
the health both of men and dogs on the journey to the Pole was always
remarkably good. The pemmican we took was essentially different from
that which former expeditions had used. Previously the pemmican had
contained nothing but the desired mixture of dried meat and lard;
ours had, besides these, vegetables and oatmeal, an addition which
greatly improves its flavour, and, as far as we could judge, makes
it easier to digest.

This kind of pemmican was first produced for the use of the Norwegian
Army; it was intended to take the place of the “emergency ration.” The
experiment was not concluded at the time the expedition left, but
it may be hoped that the result has proved satisfactory. A more
stimulating, nourishing, and appetizing food, it would be impossible
to find.

But besides the pemmican for ourselves, that for our dogs was equally
important, for they are just as liable to be attacked by scurvy as
we men. The same care had therefore to be devoted to the preparation
of their food. We obtained from Moss two kinds of pemmican, one made
with fish and the other with meat. Both kinds contained, besides the
dried fish (or meat) and lard, a certain proportion of dried milk
and middlings. Both kinds were equally excellent, and the dogs were
always in splendid condition. The pemmican was divided into rations of
1 pound 1.5 ounces, and could be served out to the dogs as it was. But
before we should be able to use this pemmican we had a five months’
voyage before us, and for this part of the expedition I had to look
for a reliable supply of dried fish. This I found through the agent of
the expedition at Tromsц, Mr. Fritz Zappfe. Two well-known firms also
placed large quantities of the best dried fish at my disposal. With
all this excellent fish and some barrels of lard we succeeded in
bringing our dogs through in the best of condition.

One of the most important of our preparations was to find good
dogs. As I have said, I had to act with decision and promptitude if
I was to succeed in getting everything in order. The day after my
decision was made, therefore, I was on my way to Copenhagen, where
the Inspectors for Greenland, Messrs. Daugaard-Jensen and Bentzen,
were to be found at that moment. The director of the Royal Greenland
Trading Company, Mr. Rydberg, showed, as before, the most friendly
interest in my undertaking, and gave the inspectors a free hand. I then
negotiated with these gentlemen, and they undertook to provide 100
of the finest Greenland dogs and to deliver them in Norway in July,
1910. The dog question was thus as good as solved, since the choice
was placed in the most expert hands. I was personally acquainted
with Inspector Daugaard-Jensen from former dealings with him, and
knew that whatever he undertook would be performed with the greatest
conscientiousness. The administration of the Royal Greenland Trading
Company gave permission for the dogs to be conveyed free of charge
on board the Hans Egede and delivered at Christiansand.

Before I proceed to our further equipment, I must say a few more
words about the dogs. The greatest difference between Scott’s and
my equipment lay undoubtedly in our choice of draught animals. We
had heard that Scott, relying on his own experience, and that of
Shackleton, had come to the conclusion that Manchurian ponies were
superior to dogs on the Barrier. Among those who were acquainted with
the Eskimo dog, I do not suppose I was the only one who was startled
on first hearing this. Afterwards, as I read the different narratives
and was able to form an accurate opinion of the conditions of surface
and going, my astonishment became even greater. Although I had never
seen this part of the Antarctic regions, I was not long in forming
an opinion diametrically opposed to that of Shackleton and Scott, for
the conditions both of going and surface were precisely what one would
desire for sledging with Eskimo dogs, to judge from the descriptions
of these explorers. If Peary could make a record trip on the Arctic
ice with dogs, one ought, surely, with equally good tackle, to be
able to beat Peary’s record on the splendidly even surface of the
Barrier. There must be some misunderstanding or other at the bottom
of the Englishmen’s estimate of the Eskimo dog’s utility in the Polar
regions. Can it be that the dog has not understood his master? Or
is it the master who has not understood his dog? The right footing
must be established from the outset; the dog must understand that
he has to obey in everything, and the master must know how to make
himself respected. If obedience is once established, I am convinced
that the dog will be superior to all other draught animals over these
long distances.

Another very important reason for using the dog is that this small
creature can much more easily cross the numerous slight snow-bridges
that are not to be avoided on the Barrier and on the glaciers. If a
dog falls into a crevasse there is no great harm done; a tug at his
harness and he is out again; but it is another matter with a pony. This
comparatively large and heavy animal of course falls through far more
easily, and if this happens, it is a long and stiff job to get the
beast hauled up again — unless, indeed, the traces have broken and
the pony lies at the bottom of a crevasse 1,000 feet deep.

And then there is the obvious advantage that dog can be fed on
dog. One can reduce one’s pack little by little, slaughtering the
feebler ones and feeding the chosen with them. In this way they get
fresh meat. Our dogs lived on dog’s flesh and pemmican the whole way,
and this enabled them to do splendid work.

And if we ourselves wanted a piece of fresh meat we could cut off a
delicate little fillet; it tasted to us as good as the best beef. The
dogs do not object at all; as long as they get their share they do not
mind what part of their comrade’s carcass it comes from. All that was
left after one of these canine meals was the teeth of the victim —
and if it had been a really hard day, these also disappeared.

If we take a step farther, from the Barrier to the plateau, it would
seem that every doubt of the dog’s superiority must disappear. Not
only can one get the dogs up over the huge glaciers that lead to the
plateau, but one can make full use of them the whole way. Ponies, on
the other hand, have to be left at the foot of the glacier, while the
men themselves have the doubtful pleasure of acting as ponies. As I
understand Shackleton’s account, there can be no question of hauling
the ponies over the steep and crevassed glaciers. It must be rather
hard to have to abandon one’s motive power voluntarily when only a
quarter of the distance has been covered. I for my part prefer to
use it all the way.

From the very beginning I saw that the first part of our expedition,
from Norway to the Barrier, would be the most dangerous section. If we
could only reach the Barrier with our dogs safe and well, the future
would be bright enough. Fortunately all my comrades took the same view
of the matter, and with their cooperation we succeeded not only in
bringing the dogs safely to our field of operations, but in landing
them in far better condition than when we received them. Their number
was also considerably increased on the way, which seems to be another
proof of a flourishing state of things. To protect them against damp
and heat we laid a loose deck of planed boards about 3 inches above
the fixed deck, an arrangement by which all the rain and spray ran
underneath the dogs. In this way we kept them out of the water, which
must always be running from side to side on the deck of a deep-laden
vessel on her way to the Antarctic Ocean. Going through the tropics
this loose deck did double service. It always afforded a somewhat cool
surface, as there was a fresh current of air between the two decks. The
main deck, which was black with tar, would have been unbearably hot
for the animals; the false deck was high, and kept fairly white during
the whole voyage. We carried awnings in addition, chiefly on account
of the dogs. These awnings could be stretched over the whole vessel
and give the dogs constant protection from the burning sun.

I still cannot help smiling when I think of the compassionate voices
that were raised here and there — and even made their way into
print — about the “cruelty to animals” on board the Fram. Presumably
these cries came from tender-hearted individuals who themselves kept
watch-dogs tied up.

Besides our four-footed companions, we took with us a two-footed one,
not so much on account of the serious work in the Polar regions as for
pleasant entertainment on the way. This was our canary “Fridtjof.” It
was one of the many presents made to the expedition, and not the
least welcome of them. It began to sing as soon as it came on board,
and has now kept it going on two circumnavigations through the most
inhospitable waters of the earth. It probably holds the record as a
Polar traveller among its kind.

Later on we had a considerable collection of various families: pigs,
fowls, sheep, cats, and — rats. Yes, unfortunately, we knew what it
was to have rats on board, the most repulsive of all creatures, and
the worst vermin I know of. But we have declared war against them,
and off they shall go before the Fram starts on her next voyage. We
got them in Buenos Aires, and the best thing will be to bury them in
their native land.

On account of the rather straitened circumstances the expedition had
to contend with, I had to look twice at every shilling before I spent
it. Articles of clothing are an important factor in a Polar expedition,
and I consider it necessary that the expedition should provide each
of its members with the actual “Polar clothing.” If one left this
part of the equipment to each individual, I am afraid things would
look badly before the journey was done. I must admit that there was
some temptation to do this. It would have been very much cheaper if
I had simply given each man a list of what clothes he was required
to provide for himself. But by so doing I should have missed the
opportunity of personally supervising the quality of the clothing to
the extent I desired.

It was not an outfit that cut a dash by its appearance, but it was warm
and strong. From the commissariat stores at Horten I obtained many
excellent articles. I owe Captain Pedersen, the present chief of the
Commissariat Department, my heartiest thanks for the courtesy he always
showed me when I came to get things out of him. Through him I had about
200 blankets served out to me. Now, the reader must not imagine a bed
and bedding, such as he may see exhibited in the windows of furniture
shops, with thick, white blankets, so delicate that in spite of their
thickness they look as if they might float away of their own accord,
so light and fine do they appear. It was not blankets like these
that Captain Pedersen gave us; we should not have known what to do
with them if he had. The blankets the commissariat gave us were of an
entirely different sort. As to their colour — well, I can only call
it indeterminable — and they did not give one the impression that
they would float away either, if one let go of them. No, they would
keep on the ground right enough; they were felted and pressed together
into a thick, hard mass. From the dawn of time they had served our
brave warriors at sea, and it is by no means impossible that some of
them had gruesome stories to tell of the days of Tordenskjold. The
first thing I did, on obtaining possession of these treasures, was
to get them into the dyeing-vat. They were unrecognizable when I
got them back — in ultramarine blue, or whatever it was called. The
metamorphosis was complete: their warlike past was wiped out.

My intention was to have these two hundred blankets made into Polar
clothing, and I took counsel with myself how I might get this done. To
disclose the origin of the stuff would be an unfortunate policy. No
tailor in the world would make clothes out of old blankets, I was
pretty sure of that. I had to hit upon some stratagem. I heard of
a man who was a capable worker at his trade, and asked him to come
and see me. My office looked exactly like a woollen warehouse, with
blankets everywhere. The tailor arrived. “Was that the stuff?” “Yes,
that was it. Just imported from abroad. A great bargain. A lot of
samples dirt cheap.” I had put on my most innocent and unconcerned
expression. I saw the tailor glance at me sideways; I suppose he
thought the samples were rather large. “A closely woven stuff,”
said he, holding it up to the light. “I could almost swear it was
‘felted.’ ” We went carefully through every single sample, and took
the number. It was a long and tedious business, and I was glad when
I saw that at last we were nearing the end. Over in a corner there
lay a few more; we had reached the one hundred and ninety-third, so
there could not be many in the pile. I was occupied with something
else, and the tailor went through the remainder by himself. I was
just congratulating myself on the apparently fortunate result of the
morning’s work when I was startled by an exclamation from the man
in the corner. It sounded like the bellow of a mad bull. Alas! there
stood the tailor enveloped in ultramarine, and swinging over his head
a blanket, the couleur changeante of which left no doubt as to the
origin of the “directly imported” goods. With a look of thunder the man
quitted me, and I sank in black despair. I never saw him again. The
fact was that in my hurry I had forgotten the sample blanket that
Captain Pedersen had sent me. That was the cause of the catastrophe.

Well, I finally succeeded in getting the work executed, and it is
certain that no expedition has ever had warmer and stronger clothing
than this. It was in great favour on board.

I also thought it best to provide good oilskins, and especially
good sea-boots for every man. The sea-boots were therefore made to
measure, and of the very best material. I had them made by the firm
I have always regarded as the best in that branch. How, then, shall
I describe our grief when, on the day we were to wear our beautiful
sea-boots, we discovered that most of them were useless? Some of the
men could dance a hornpipe in theirs without taking the boots off
the deck. Others, by exerting all their strength, could not squeeze
their foot through the narrow way and reach paradise. The leg was so
narrow that even the most delicate little foot could not get through
it, and to make up for this the foot of the boot was so huge that
it could comfortably accommodate twice as much as its owner could
show. Very few were able to wear their boots. We tried changing,
but that was no use; the boots were not made for any creatures of
this planet. But sailors are sailors wherever they may be; it is not
easy to beat them. Most of them knew the proverb that one pair of
boots that fit is better than ten pairs that you can’t put on, and
had brought their own with them. And so we got out of that difficulty.

We took three sets of linen underclothing for every man, to wear
in the warm regions. This part of the equipment was left to each
individual; most men possess a few old shirts, and not much more is
wanted through the tropics. For the cold regions there were two sets
of extra thick woollen underclothing, two thick hand-knitted woollen
jerseys, six pairs of knitted stockings, Iceland and other lighter
jackets, socks and stockings from the penitentiary.

Besides these we had a quantity of clothing from the army depots. I
owe many thanks to General Keilhau for the kind way in which he fell
in with all my wishes. From this quarter we obtained outer clothing for
both cold and warm climates, underclothes, boots, shoes, wind-clothing,
and cloths of different kinds.

As the last item of our personal equipment I may mention that each
man had a suit of sealskin from Greenland. Then there were such things
as darning-wool, sewing-yarn, needles of all possible sizes, buttons,
scissors, tapes — broad and narrow, black and white, blue and red. I
may safely assert that nothing was forgotten; we were well and amply
equipped in every way.

Another side of our preparations which claimed some attention was
the fitting up of the quarters we were to inhabit, the saloons and
cabins. What an immense difference it makes if one lives in comfortable
surroundings. For my part, I can do twice the amount of work when I
see tidiness and comfort around me. The saloons on the Fram were very
handsomely and tastefully fitted. Here we owe, in the first place, our
respectful thanks to King Haakon and Queen Maud for the photographs
they presented to us; they were the most precious of our gifts. The
ladies of Horten gave us a number of pretty things for decorating the
cabins, and they will no doubt be glad to hear of the admiration they
aroused wherever we went. “Is this really a Polar ship?” people asked;
“we expected to see nothing but wooden benches and bare walls.” And
they began to talk about “boudoirs” and things of that sort. Besides
splendid embroideries, our walls were decorated with the most wonderful
photographs; it would have rejoiced the giver of these to hear all
the words of praise that have been bestowed upon them.

The sleeping quarters I left to individual taste: every man could
take a bit of his home in his own little compartment. The bedclothes
came from the naval factory at Horten; they were first-class work,
like everything else that came from there. We owe our best thanks to
the giver of the soft blankets that have so often been our joy and
put warmth into us after a bitter day; they came from a woollen mill
at Trondhjem.

I must also mention our paper-supply, which was in all respects as fine
and elegant as it could possibly be: the most exquisite notepaper,
stamped with a picture of the Fram and the name of the expedition,
in large and small size, broad and narrow, old style and new style —
every kind of notepaper, in fact. Of pens and penholders, pencils,
black and coloured, india-rubber, Indian ink, drawing-pins and
other kinds of pins, ink and ink-powder, white chalk and red chalk,
gum arabic and other gums, date-holders and almanacs, ship’s logs
and private diaries, notebooks and sledging diaries, and many other
things of the same sort, we have such a stock that we shall be able to
circumnavigate the earth several times more before running short. This
gift does honour to the firm which sent it; every time I have sent
a letter or written in my diary, I have had a grateful thought for
the givers.

From one of the largest houses in Christiania we had a complete set
of kitchen utensils and breakfast and dinner services, all of the
best kind. The cups, plates, knives, forks, spoons, jugs, glasses,
etc., were all marked with the ship’s name.

We carried an extraordinarily copious library; presents of books were
showered upon us in great quantities. I suppose the Fram’s library
at the present moment contains at least 3,000 volumes.

For our entertainment we also had a good many different games. One
of these became our favourite pastime in leisure evenings down in
the South. Packs of cards we had by the dozen, and many of them have
already been well used. A gramophone with a large supply of records
was, I think, our best friend. Of musical instruments we had a piano,
a violin, a flute, mandolins, not forgetting a mouth-organ and an
accordion. All the publishers had been kind enough to send us music,
so that we could cultivate this art as much as we wished.

Christmas presents streamed in from all sides; I suppose we had about
five hundred on board. Christmas-trees and decorations for them,
with many other things to amuse us at Christmas, were sent with us
by friends and acquaintances. People have indeed been kind to us,
and I can assure the givers that all their presents have been, and
are still, much appreciated.

We were well supplied with wines and spirits, thanks to one of the
largest firms of wine-merchants in Christiania. An occasional glass of
wine or a tot of spirits were things that we all, without exception,
were very glad of. The question of alcohol on Polar expeditions has
often been discussed. Personally, I regard alcohol, used in moderation,
as a medicine in the Polar regions — I mean, of course, so long as
one is in winter quarters. It is another matter on sledge journeys:
there we all know from experience that alcohol must be banished —
not because a drink of spirits can do any harm, but on account of
the weight and space. On sledging journeys one has, of course, to
save weight as much as possible, and to take only what is strictly
necessary; and I do not include alcohol under the head of strictly
necessary things. Nor was it only in winter quarters that we had use
for alcohol, but also on the long, monotonous voyage through raw, cold,
and stormy regions. A tot of spirits is often a very good thing when
one goes below after a bitter watch on deck and is just turning in. A
total abstainer will no doubt turn up his nose and ask whether a cup
of good warm coffee would not do as well. For my part, I think the
quantity of coffee people pour into themselves at such times is far
more harmful than a little Lysholmer snaps. And think of the important
part a glass of wine or toddy plays in social gatherings on such a
voyage. Two men who have fallen out a little in the course of the week
are reconciled at once by the scent of rum; the past is forgotten,
and they start afresh in friendly co-operation. Take alcohol away from
these little festivities, and you will soon see the difference. It is
a sad thing, someone will say, that men absolutely must have alcohol to
put them in a good humour — and I am quite ready to agree. But seeing
that our nature is what it is, we must try to make the best of it. It
seems as though we civilized human beings must have stimulating drinks,
and that being so, we have to follow our own convictions. I am for a
glass of toddy. Let who will eat plum-cake and swill hot coffee —
heartburn and other troubles are often the result of this kind of
refreshment. A little toddy doesn’t hurt anybody.

The consumption of alcohol on the Fram’s third voyage was as follows:
One dram and fifteen drops at dinner on Wednesdays and Sundays,
and a glass of toddy on Saturday evenings. On holidays there was an
additional allowance.

We were all well supplied with tobacco and cigars from various firms
at home and abroad. We had enough cigars to allow us one each on
Saturday evenings and after dinner on Sundays.

Two Christiania manufacturers sent us their finest bonbons and drops,
and a foreign firm gave us “Gala Peter,” so that it was no rare thing
to see the Polar explorers helping themselves to a sweetmeat or a
piece of chocolate. An establishment at Drammen gave us as much fruit
syrup as we could drink, and if the giver only knew how many times
we blessed the excellent product he supplied, I am sure he would be
pleased. On the homeward march from the Pole we looked forward every
day to getting nearer to our supply of syrup.

From three different firms in Christiania we received all our
requirements in the way of cheese, biscuits, tea, sugar, and
coffee. The packing of the last-named was so efficient that, although
the coffee was roasted, it is still as fresh and aromatic as the day
it left the warehouse. Another firm sent us soap enough for five
years, and one uses a good deal of that commodity even on a Polar
voyage. A man in Christiania had seen to the care of our skin, hair,
and teeth, and it is not his fault if we have not delicate skins,
abundant growth of hair, and teeth like pearls, for the outfit was
certainly complete enough.

An important item of the equipment is the medical department, and
here my advisers were Dr. Jacob Roll and Dr. Holth; therefore nothing
was wanting. A chemist in Christiania supplied all the necessary
medicines as a contribution, carefully chosen, and beautifully
arranged. Unfortunately no doctor accompanied the expedition, so that
I was obliged to take all the responsibility myself.

Lieutenant Gjertsen, who had a pronounced aptitude both for drawing
teeth and amputating legs, went through a “lightning course” at the
hospital and the dental hospital. He clearly showed that much may be
learnt in a short time by giving one’s mind to it. With surprising
rapidity and apparent confidence Lieutenant Gjertsen disposed of the
most complicated cases — whether invariably to the patient’s advantage
is another question, which I shall leave undecided. He drew teeth
with a dexterity that strongly reminded one of the conjurer’s art;
one moment he showed an empty pair of forceps, the next there was a
big molar in their grip. The yells one heard while the operation was
in progress seemed to indicate that it was not entirely painless.

A match factory gave us all the safety matches we wanted. They were
packed so securely that we could quite well have towed the cases
after us in the sea all the way, and found the matches perfectly dry
on arrival. We had a quantity of ammunition and explosives. As the
whole of the lower hold was full of petroleum, the Fram had a rather
dangerous cargo on board. We therefore took all possible precautions
against fire; extinguishing apparatus was fitted in every cabin and
wherever practicable, and pumps with hose were always in readiness
on deck.

The necessary ice-tools, such as saws from 2 to 6 metres long,
ice-drills, etc., were not forgotten.

We had a number of scientific instruments with us. Professors Nansen
and Helland-Hansen had devoted many an hour to our oceanographical
equipment, which was therefore a model of what such an equipment
should be. Lieutenants Prestrud and Gjertsen had both gone through the
necessary course in oceanography under Helland-Hansen at the Bergen
biological station. I myself had spent a summer there, and taken part
in one of the oceanographical courses. Professor Helland-Hansen was a
brilliant teacher; I am afraid I cannot assert that I was an equally
brilliant pupil.

Professor Mohn had given us a complete meteorological outfit. Among the
instruments belonging to the Fram I may mention a pendulum apparatus,
an excellent astronomical theodolite, and a sextant. Lieutenant
Prestrud studied the use of the pendulum apparatus under Professor
Schiotz and the use of the astronomical theodolite under Professor
Geelmuyden. We had in addition several sextants and artificial
horizons, both glass and mercury. We had binoculars of all sizes,
from the largest to the smallest.

So far I have been dealing with our general outfit, and shall now pass
to the special equipment of the shore party. The hut we took out was
built on my property on Bundefjord, so that I was able to watch the
work as it progressed. It was built by the brothers Hans and Jцrgen
Stubberud, and was throughout a splendid piece of work, which did
honour to both the brothers. The materials proved excellent in every
way. The hut was 26 feet long by 13 feet wide; its height from the
floor to the ridge of the roof was about 12 feet. It was built as an
ordinary Norwegian house, with pointed gable, and had two rooms. One
of these was 19 1/2 feet long, and was to serve as our dormitory,
dining-room, and sitting-room; the other room was 6 1/2 feet long,
and was to be Lindstrцm’s kitchen. From the kitchen a double trap-door
led to the loft, where we intended to keep a quantity of provisions and
outfit. The walls consisted of 3-inch planks, with air space between;
panels outside and inside, with air space between them and the plank
walling. For insulation we used cellulose pulp. The floor and the
ceiling between the rooms and the loft were double, while the upper
roof was single. The doors were extraordinarily thick and strong, and
fitted into oblique grooves, so that they closed very tightly. There
were two windows — a triple one in the end wall of the main room,
and a double one in the kitchen. For the covering of the roof we
took out roofing-paper, and for the floor linoleum. In the main room
there were two air-pipes, one to admit fresh air, the other for the
exhaust. There were bunks for ten men in two stages, six on one wall
and four on the other. The furniture of the room consisted of a table,
a stool for each man, and a Lux lamp.

One half of the kitchen was occupied by the range, the other by shelves
and cooking utensils. The hut was tarred several times, and every part
was carefully marked, so that it could easily be set up. To fasten it
to the ground and prevent the Antarctic storms from blowing it away I
had strong eyebolts screwed into each end of the roof-ridge and the
four corners of the roof; we carried six strong eyebolts, a metre
long, to be rammed into the barrier; between these bolts and those
on the hut, steel wires were to be stretched, which could be drawn
quite tight. We also had two spare cables, which could be stretched
over the roof if the gales were too severe. The two ventilating pipes
and the chimney were secured outside with strong stays.

As will be seen, every precaution was taken to make the hut warm and
comfortable, and to hold it down on the ground. We also took on board
a quantity of loose timber, boards and planks.

Besides the hut we took with us fifteen tents for sixteen men each. Ten
of these were old, but good; they were served out to us from the naval
stores; the other five were new, and we bought them from the army
depots. It was our intention to use the tents as temporary houses;
they were easily and quickly set up, and were strong and warm. On the
voyage to the South Rцnne sewed new floors of good, strong canvas to
the five new tents.

All cases of provisions that were intended for winter quarters were
marked and stowed separately in the hold in such a way that they
could be put out on to the ice at once.

We had ten sledges made by a firm of sporting outfitters in
Christiania. They were built like the old Nansen sledges, but rather
broader, and were 12 feet long. The runners were of the best American
hickory, shod with steel. The other parts were of good, tough Norwegian
ash. To each sledge belonged a pair of spare runners, which could
easily be fitted underneath by means of clamps, and as easily removed
when not required. The steel shoeing of the runners was well coated
with red lead, and the spare runners with tar. These sledges were
extremely strongly built, and could stand all kinds of work on every
sort of surface. At that time I did not know the conditions on the
Barrier as I afterwards came to know them. Of course, these sledges
were very heavy.

We took twenty pairs of ski, all of the finest hickory; they were
8 feet long, and proportionately narrow. I chose them of this length
with a view to being able to cross the numerous cracks in the glaciers;
the greater the surface over which the weight could be distributed, the
better prospect we should have of slipping over the snow-bridges. We
had forty ski-poles, with ebonite points. The ski-bindings were a
combination of the Huitfeldt and the Hцyer Ellefsen bindings. We also
had quantities of loose straps.

We had six three-man tents, all made in the navy workshops. The
workmanship could not have been better; they were the strongest and
most practical tents that have ever been used. They were made of the
closest canvas, with the floor in one piece. One man was sufficient to
set up the tent in the stiffest breeze; I have come to the conclusion
that the fewer poles a tent has, the easier it is to set up, which
seems quite natural. These tents have only one pole. How often one
reads in narratives of Polar travel that it took such and such a time
— often hours — to set up the tent, and then, when at last it was
up, one lay expecting it to be blown down at any moment. There was
no question of this with our tents. They were up in a twinkling,
and stood against all kinds of wind; we could lie securely in our
sleeping-bags, and let it blow.

The arrangement of the door was on the usual sack principle, which is
now recognized as the only serviceable one for the Polar regions. The
sack patent is quite simple, like all patents that are any good. You
cut an opening in the tent of the size you wish; then you take a sack,
which you leave open at both ends, and sew one end fast round the
opening of the tent. The funnel formed by the open sack is then the
entrance. When you have come in, you gather up the open end of the
funnel or sack, and tie it together. Not a particle of snow can get
into a tent with the floor sewed on and an entrance of this kind,
even in the worst storm.

The cases for sledging provisions were made of fairly thin, tough ash,
which came from the estate of Palsgaard in Jutland, and the material
did all it promised. These cases were 1 foot square and 15 1/2 inches
high. They had only a little round opening on the top, closed with an
aluminium lid, which fitted exactly like the lid of a milk-can. Large
lids weaken the cases, and I had therefore chosen this form. We did
not have to throw off the lashing of the case to get the lid off,
and this is a very great advantage; we could always get at it. A case
with a large lid, covered by the lashing, gives constant trouble;
the whole lashing has to be undone for every little thing one wants
out of the case. This is not always convenient; if one is tired and
slack, it may sometimes happen that one will put off till to-morrow
what ought to be done to-day, especially when it is bitterly cold. The
handier one’s sledging outfit, the sooner one gets into the tent and
to rest, and that is no small consideration on a long journey.

Our outfit of clothing was abundant and more complete, I suppose, than
that of any former Polar expedition. We may divide it into two classes,
the outfit for specially low temperatures and that for more moderate
temperatures. It must be remembered that no one had yet wintered on
the Barrier, so we had to be prepared for anything. In order to be
able to grapple with any degree of cold, we were supplied with the
richest assortment of reindeer-skin clothing; we had it specially
thick, medium, and quite light. It took a long time to get these
skin clothes prepared. First the reindeer-skins had to be bought
in a raw state, and this was done for me by Mr. Zappfe at Tromsц,
Karasjok, and Kaatokeino. Let me take the opportunity of thanking
this man for the many and great services he has rendered me, not
only during my preparations for the third voyage of the Fram, but
in the fitting out of the Gjцa expedition as well. With his help
I have succeeded in obtaining things that I should otherwise never
have been able to get. He shrank from no amount of work, but went
on till he had found what I wanted. This time he procured nearly
two hundred and fifty good reindeer-skins, dressed by the Lapps,
and sent them to Christiania. Here I had great trouble in finding
a man who could sew skins, but at last I found one. We then went
to work to make clothes after the pattern of the Netchelli Eskimo,
and the sewing went on early and late — thick anoraks and thin ones,
heavy breeches and light, winter stockings and summer stockings. We
also had a dozen thin sleeping-bags, which I thought of using inside
the big thick ones if the cold should be too severe. Everything was
finished, but not until the last moment. The outer sleeping-bags were
made by Mr. Brandt, furrier, of Bergen, and they were so excellent,
both in material and making-up, that no one in the world could
have done better; it was a model piece of work. To save this outer
sleeping-bag, we had it provided with a cover of the lightest canvas,
which was a good deal longer than the bag itself. It was easy to tie
the end of the cover together like the mouth of the sack, and this kept
the snow out of the bag during the day’s march. In this way we always
kept ourselves free from the annoyance of drifting snow. We attached
great importance to having the bags made of the very best sort of skin,
and took care that the thin skin of the belly was removed. I have seen
sleeping-bags of the finest reindeer-skin spoilt in a comparatively
short time if they contained a few patches of this thin skin, as
of course the cold penetrates more easily through the thin skin,
and gives rise to dampness in the form of rime on meeting the warmth
of the body. These thin patches remain damp whenever one is in the
bag, and in a short time they lose their hair. The damp spreads,
like decay in wood, and continually attacks the surrounding skin,
with the result that one fine day you find yourself with a hairless
sleeping-bag. One cannot be too careful in the choice of skins. For
the sake of economy, the makers of reindeer-skin sleeping-bags are in
the habit of sewing them in such a way that the direction of the hair
is towards the opening of the bag. Of course this suits the shape of
the skins best, but it does not suit the man who is going to use the
bag. For it is no easy matter to crawl into a sleeping-bag which is
only just wide enough to allow one to get in, and if the way of the
hair is against one it is doubly difficult. I had them all made as
one-man bags, with lacing round the neck; this did not, of course,
meet with the approval of all, as will be seen later. The upper
part of this thick sleeping-bag was made of thinner reindeer-skin,
so that we might be able to tie it closely round the neck; the thick
skin will not draw so well and fit so closely as the thin.

Our clothing in moderate temperatures consisted of thick woollen
underclothing and Burberry windproof overalls. This underclothing
was specially designed for the purpose; I had myself watched the
preparation of the material, and knew that it contained nothing
but pure wool. We had overalls of two different materials: Burberry
“gabardine” and the ordinary green kind that is used in Norway in the
winter. For sledge journeys, where one has to save weight, and to work
in loose, easy garments, I must unhesitatingly recommend Burberry. It
is extraordinarily light and strong, and keeps the wind completely
out. For hard work I prefer the green kind. It keeps out the wind
equally well, but is heavier and more bulky, and less comfortable
to wear on a long march. Our Burberry wind-clothes were made in the
form of anorak (blouse) and trousers, both very roomy. The others
consisted of trousers and jacket with hood.

Our mits were for the most part such as one can buy in any shop; we
wanted nothing else in and around winter quarters. Outside the mits
we wore an outer covering of windproof material, so as not to wear
them out too quickly. These mits are not very strong, though they are
good and warm. Besides these, we had ten pairs of ordinary kid mits,
which were bought at a glove-shop in Christiania, and were practically
impossible to wear out. I wore mine from Framheim to the Pole and back
again, and afterwards on the voyage to Tasmania. The lining, of course,
was torn in places, but the seams of the mits were just as perfect as
the day I bought them. Taking into consideration the fact that I went
on ski the whole way and used two poles, it will be understood that
the mits were strongly made. We also had a number of woollen gloves,
which, curiously enough, the others greatly prized. For myself, I was
never able to wear such things; they simply freeze the fingers off me.

But most important of all is the covering of the feet, for the feet
are the most exposed members and the most difficult to protect. One
can look after the hands; if they grow cold it is easy to beat them
into warmth again. Not so with the feet; they are covered up in the
morning, and this is a sufficiently troublesome piece of work to make
one disinclined to undo it again until one is turning in. They cannot
be seen in the course of the day, and one has to depend entirely on
feeling; but feeling in this case often plays curious tricks. How
often has it happened that men have had their feet
frozen off without knowing it! For if they had known it, they could not
possibly have let it go so far. The fact is that in this case sensation
is a somewhat doubtful guide, for the feet lose all sensation. It
is true that there is a transitional stage, when one feels the
cold smarting in one’s toes, and tries to get rid of it by stamping
the feet. As a rule this is successful; the warmth returns, or the
circulation is restored; but it occasionally happens that sensation is
lost at the very moment when these precautions are taken. And then one
must be an old hand to know what has happened. Many men conclude that,
as they no longer feel the unpleasant smarting sensation, all is well;
and at the evening inspection a frozen foot of tallow-like appearance
presents itself. An event of this kind may ruin the most elaborately
prepared enterprise, and it is therefore advisable in the matter of
feet to carry one’s caution to lengths which may seem ridiculous.

Now, it is a fact that if one can wear soft foot-gear exclusively
the risk of frost-bite is far less than if one is compelled to wear
stiff boots; in soft foot-gear, of course, the foot can move far more
easily and keep warm. But we were to take ski and to get full use
out of them, so that in any case we had to have a stiff sole for the
sake of the bindings. It is of no use to have a good binding unless
you can use it in the right way. In my opinion, on a long journey
such as that we had before us, the ski must be perfectly steady. I
do not know anything that tires me more than a bad fastening — that
is, one that allows the foot to shift in the binding. I want the
ski to be a part of oneself, so that one always has full command of
them. I have tried many patents, for I have always been afraid of a
stiff fastening in cold temperatures; but all these patents, without
exception, are worthless in the long-run. I decided this time to
try a combination of stiff and soft foot-gear, so that we could use
the splendid Huitfeldt-Hцyer Ellefsen bindings; but this was no easy
matter. Of our whole outfit nothing caused me more worry or gave us
all more work in the course of the expedition than the stiff outer
covering which we had to have; but we solved the problem at last. I
applied to one of the leading makers of ski-boots in Christiania, and
explained the difficulty to him; fortunately I had found a man who
was evidently interested in the question. We agreed that he should
make a sample pair after the pattern of ski-boots. The sole was to
be thick and stiff — for we had to be prepared to use crampons —
but the uppers as soft as possible. In order to avoid leather, which
usually becomes stiff and easily cracked in the cold, he was to use
a combination of leather and thin canvas for the uppers — leather
nearest the sole, and canvas above it.

The measurements were taken from my foot, which is not exactly a
child’s foot, with two pairs of reindeer-skin stockings on, and ten
pairs were made. I well remember seeing these boots in civilized
Christiania. They were exhibited in the bootmaker’s windows — I
used to go a long way round to avoid coming face to face with these
monsters in public. We are all a trifle vain, and dislike having our
own shortcomings shown up in electric light. If I had ever cherished
any illusions on the subject of “a dainty little foot,” I am sure the
last trace of such vanity died out on the day I passed the shoemaker’s
window and beheld my own boots. I never went that way again until
I was certain that the exhibition was closed. One thing is certain,
that the boots were a fine piece of workmanship. We shall hear later
on of the alterations they had to undergo before we at last made them
as large as we wanted, for the giant boots turned out much too small!

Among other equipment I must mention our excellent Primus cooking
apparatus. This all came complete from a firm in Stockholm. For cooking
on sledge journeys the Primus stove ranks above all others; it gives
a great deal of heat, uses little oil, and requires no attention —
advantages which are important enough anywhere, but especially when
sledging. There is never any trouble with this apparatus; it has come
as near perfection as possible. We took five Nansen cookers with
us. This cooker utilizes the heat more completely than any other;
but I have one objection to make to it — it takes up space. We used
it on our depot journeys, but were unfortunately obliged to give it up
on the main southern journey. We were so many in a tent, and space was
so limited, that I dared not risk using it. If one has room enough,
it is ideal in my opinion.

We had with us ten pairs of snow-shoes and one hundred sets of
dog-harness of the Alaska Eskimo pattern. The Alaska Eskimo drive
their dogs in tandem; the whole pull is thus straight ahead in the
direction the sledge is going, and this is undoubtedly the best way of
utilizing the power. I had made up my mind to adopt the same system
in sledging on the Barrier. Another great advantage it had was that
the dogs would pass singly across fissures, so that the danger of
falling through was considerably reduced. The exertion of pulling is
also less trying with Alaska harness than with the Greenland kind,
as the Alaska harness has a shallow, padded collar, which is slipped
over the animal’s head and makes the weight of the pull come on his
shoulders, whereas the Greenland harness presses on his chest. Raw
places, which occur rather frequently with the Greenland harness, are
almost entirely avoided with the other. All the sets of harness were
made in the navy workshops, and after their long and hard use they
are as good as ever. There could be no better recommendation than this.

Of instruments and apparatus for the sledge journeys we carried
two sextants, three artificial horizons, of which two were glass
horizons with dark glasses, and one a mercury horizon, and four spirit
compasses, made in Christiania. They were excellent little compasses,
but unfortunately useless in cold weather — that is to say, when the
temperature went below -40° F.; at this point the liquid froze. I had
drawn the maker’s attention to this beforehand and asked him to use as
pure a spirit as possible. What his object was I still do not know,
but the spirit he employed was highly dilute. The best proof of this
was that the liquid in our compasses froze before the spirits in a
flask. We were naturally inconvenienced by this. Besides these we had
an ordinary little pocket-compass, two pairs of binoculars, one by
Zeiss and the other by Goertz, and snow-goggles from Dr. Schanz. We
had various kinds of glasses for these, so that we could change when
we were tired of one colour. During the whole stay on the Barrier I
myself wore a pair of ordinary spectacles with yellow glasses of quite
a light tint. These are prepared by a chemical process in such a way
that they nullify the harmful colours in the sun’s rays. How excellent
these glasses are appears clearly enough from the fact that I never
had the slightest touch of snow-blindness on the southern journey,
although the spectacles were perfectly open and allowed the light to
enter freely everywhere. It will perhaps be suggested that I am less
susceptible to this ailment than others, but I know from personal
experience that such is not the case. I have previously had several
severe attacks of snow-blindness.

We had two photographic cameras, an air thermometer, two aneroids with
altitude scale to 15,000 feet, and two hypsometers. The hypsometer
is only an instrument for determining the boiling-point, which gives
one the height above the sea. The method is both simple and reliable.

The medical stores for sledging were given by a London firm,
and the way in which the things were packed speaks for the whole
outfit. There is not a speck of rust on needles, scissors, knives,
or anything else, although they have been exposed to much damp. Our
own medical outfit, which was bought in Christiania, and according
to the vendor’s statement unusually well packed, became in a short
time so damaged that the whole of it is now entirely spoilt.

The sledging provisions must be mentioned briefly. I have already
spoken of the pemmican. I have never considered it necessary to
take a whole grocer’s shop with me when sledging; the food should be
simple and nourishing, and that is enough — a rich and varied menu
is for people who have no work to do. Besides the pemmican, we had
biscuits, milk-powder, and chocolate. The biscuits were a present
from a well-known Norwegian factory, and did all honour to their
origin. They were specially baked for us, and were made of oatmeal with
the addition of dried milk and a little sugar; they were extremely
nourishing and pleasant to the taste. Thanks to efficient packing,
they kept fresh and crisp all the time. These biscuits formed a great
part of our daily diet, and undoubtedly contributed in no small degree
to the successful result. Milk-powder is a comparatively new commodity
with us, but it deserves to be better known. It came from the district
of Jжderen. Neither heat nor cold, dryness nor wet, could hurt it;
we had large quantities of it lying out in small, thin linen bags in
every possible state of the weather: the powder was as good the last
day as the first. We also took dried milk from a firm in Wisconsin;
this milk had an addition of malt and sugar, and was, in my opinion,
excellent; it also kept good the whole time. The chocolate came from
a world-renowned firm, and was beyond all praise. The whole supply
was a very acceptable gift.

We are bringing all the purveyors of our sledging provisions samples
of their goods that have made the journey to the South Pole and back,
in gratitude for the kind assistance they afforded us.


On the Way to the South

The month of May, 1910, ran its course, beautiful as only a spring
month in Norway can be — a lovely dream of verdure and flowers. But
unfortunately we had little time to admire all the splendour that
surrounded us; our watchword was “Away” — away from beautiful sights,
as quickly as possible.

From the beginning of the month the Fram lay moored to her buoy
outside the old walls of Akershus. Fresh and trim she came from the
yard at Horten; you could see the shine on her new paint a long way
off. Involuntarily one thought of holidays and yachting tours at the
sight of her; but the thought was soon banished. The first day after
her arrival, the vessel’s deck assumed the most everyday appearance
that could be desired: the loading had begun.

A long procession of cases of provisions made its way unceasingly
from the basement of the Historical Museum down into the roomy hold
of the Fram, where Lieutenant Nilsen and the three Nordlanders were
ready to receive them. This process was not an altogether simple one;
on the contrary, it was a very serious affair. It was not enough to
know that all the cases were duly on board; the problem was to know
exactly where each particular case was placed, and, at the same time,
to stow them all in such a way that they could easily be got at in
future. This was a difficult piece of work, and it was not rendered
any more easy by the attention that had to be paid to the numerous
hatches leading down into the lower hold, where the big petroleum
tanks stood. All these hatches had to be left accessible, otherwise
we should have been cut off from pumping the oil into the engine-room.

However, Nilsen and his assistants accomplished their task with
brilliant success. Among the hundreds of cases there was not one that
was misplaced; not one that was stowed so that it could not instantly
be brought into the light of day.

While the provisioning was going on, the rest of the equipment was
also being taken on board. Each member of the expedition was busily
engaged in looking after the needs of his own department in the best
way possible. Nor was this a question of trifles: one may cudgel one’s
brains endlessly in advance, but some new requirement will constantly
be cropping up — until one puts a full stop to it by casting off
and sailing. This event was becoming imminent with the arrival of June.

The day before leaving Christiania we had the honour and pleasure
of receiving a visit from the King and Queen of Norway on board the
Fram. Having been informed beforehand of their Majesties’ coming, we
endeavoured as far as possible to bring some order into the chaos that
reigned on board. I do not know that we were particularly successful,
but I am sure that every one of the Fram’s crew will always remember
with respectful gratitude King Haakon’s cordial words of farewell.

On the same occasion the expedition received from their Majesties
the gift of a beautiful silver jug, which afterwards formed the most
handsome ornament of our table on every festive occasion.

On June 3, early in the forenoon, the Fram left Christiania, bound
at first for my home on Bundefjord. The object of her call there was
to take on board the house for the winter station, which stood ready
built in the garden. Our excellent carpenter Jцrgen Stubberud had
superintended the construction of this strong building. It was now
rapidly taken to pieces, and every single plank and beam was carefully
numbered. We had quite an imposing pile of materials to get aboard,
where even before there was not much room to spare. The bulk of it
was stowed forward, and the remainder in the hold.

The more experienced among the members of the expedition were evidently
absorbed in profound conjectures as to the meaning of this “observation
house,” as the newspapers had christened it. It may willingly be
admitted that they had good reason for their speculations. By an
observation house is usually meant a comparatively simple construction,
sufficient to provide the necessary shelter from wind and weather. Our
house, on the other hand, was a model of solidity, with three double
walls, double roof and floor. Its arrangements included ten inviting
bunks, a kitchener, and a table; the latter, moreover, had a brand-new
American-cloth cover. “I can understand that they want to keep
themselves warm when they’re making observations,” said Helmer Hanssen;
“but what they want with a cloth on the table I can’t make out.”

On the afternoon of June 6 it was announced that everything was ready,
and in the evening we all assembled at a simple farewell supper in
the garden. I took the opportunity of wishing good luck to every man
in turn, and finally we united in a

“God preserve the King and Fatherland!”

Then we broke up. The last man to get into the boat was the second
in command; he arrived armed with a horseshoe. In his opinion it is
quite incredible what luck an old horseshoe will bring. Possibly he
is right. Anyhow, the horseshoe was firmly nailed to the mast in the
Fram’s saloon, and there it still hangs.

When on board, we promptly set to work to get up the anchor. The
Bolinder motor hummed, and the heavy cable rattled in through the
hawse-hole. Precisely at midnight the anchor let go of the bottom,
and just as the Seventh of June[3], rolled in over us, the Fram stood
out of Christiania Fjord for the third time. Twice already had a band
of stout-hearted men brought this ship back with honour after years
of service. Would it be vouchsafed to us to uphold this honourable
tradition? Such were, no doubt, the thoughts with which most of us
were occupied as our vessel glided over the motionless fjord in the
light summer night. The start was made under the sign of the Seventh
of June, and this was taken as a promising omen; but among our bright
and confident hopes there crept a shadow of melancholy. The hillsides,
the woods, the fjord — all were so bewitchingly fair and so dear to
us. They called to us with their allurement, but the Diesel motor knew
no pity. Its tuff-tuff went on brutally through the stillness. A little
boat, in which were some of my nearest relations, dropped gradually
astern. There was a glimpse of white handkerchiefs in the twilight,
and then — farewell!

The next morning we were moored in the inner harbour at Horten. An
apparently innocent lighter came alongside at once, but the lighter’s
cargo was not quite so innocent as its appearance. It consisted
of no less than half a ton of gun-cotton and rifle ammunition,
a somewhat unpleasant, but none the less necessary, item of our
equipment. Besides taking on board the ammunition, we availed
ourselves of the opportunity of completing our water-supply. When
this was done, we lost no time in getting away. As we passed the
warships lying in the harbour they manned ship, and the bands played
the National Anthem. Outside Vealцs we had the pleasure of waving a
last farewell to a man to whom the expedition will always owe a debt
of gratitude, Captain Christian Blom, Superintendent of the dockyard,
who had supervised the extensive repairs to the Fram with unrelaxing
interest and obligingness. He slipped past us in his sailing-boat;
I do not remember if he got a cheer. If he did not, it was a mistake.

Now we were on our way to the South, as the heading of this
chapter announces, though not yet in earnest. We had an additional
task before us: the oceanographical cruise in the Atlantic. This
necessitated a considerable dйtour on the way. The scientific results
of this cruise will be dealt with by specialists in due course;
if it is briefly referred to here, this is chiefly for the sake
of continuity. After consultation with Professor Nansen, the plan
was to begin investigations in the region to the south of Ireland,
and thence to work our way westward as far as time and circumstances
permitted. The work was to be resumed on the homeward voyage in the
direction of the North of Scotland. For various reasons this programme
afterwards had to be considerably reduced.

For the first few days after leaving Norway we were favoured with
the most splendid summer weather. The North Sea was as calm as a
millpond; the Fram had little more motion than when she was lying
in Bundefjord. This was all the better for us, as we could hardly be
said to be absolutely ready for sea when we passed Fжrder, and came
into the capricious Skagerak. Hard pressed as we had been for time,
it had not been possible to lash and stow the last of our cargo as
securely as was desirable; a stiff breeze at the mouth of the fjord
would therefore have been rather inconvenient. As it was, everything
was arranged admirably, but to do this we had to work night and day. I
have been told that on former occasions sea-sickness made fearful
ravages on board the Fram, but from this trial we also had an easy
escape. Nearly all the members of the expedition were used to the sea,
and the few who, perhaps, were not so entirely proof against it had a
whole week of fine weather to get into training. So far as I know, not
a single case occurred of this unpleasant and justly dreaded complaint.

After passing the Dogger Bank we had a very welcome north-east breeze;
with the help of the sails we could now increase the not very reckless
speed that the motor was capable of accomplishing. Before we sailed,
the most contradictory accounts were current of the Fram’s sailing
qualities. There were some who asserted that the ship could not be
got through the water at all, while with equal force the contrary
view was maintained — that she was a notable fast sailer. As might
be supposed, the truth as usual lay about half-way between these two
extremes. The ship was no racer, nor was she an absolute log. We
ran before the north-east wind towards the English Channel at a
speed of about seven knots, and with that we were satisfied for the
time being. The important question for us was whether we should keep
the favourable wind till we were well through the Straits of Dover,
and, preferably, a good way down Channel. Our engine power was far
too limited to make it of any use trying to go against the wind,
and we should have been obliged in that case to have recourse to the
sailing-ship’s method — beating. Tacking in the English Channel — the
busiest part of the world’s seas — is in itself no very pleasant work;
for us it would be so much the worse, as it would greatly encroach on
the time that could be devoted to oceanographical investigations. But
the east wind held with praiseworthy steadiness. In the course of a
few days we were through the Channel, and about a week after leaving
Norway we were able to take the first oceanographical station at the
point arranged according to the plan. Hitherto everything had gone
as smoothly as we could wish, but now, for a change, difficulties
began to appear, first in the form of unfavourable weather When the
north-wester begins to blow in the North Atlantic, it is generally a
good while before it drops again, and this time it did not belie its
reputation. Far from getting to the westward, we were threatened for
a time with being driven on to the Irish coast. It was not quite so
bad as that, but we soon found ourselves obliged to shorten the route
originally laid down very considerably. A contributing cause of this
determination was the fact that the motor was out of order. Whether it
was the fault of the oil or a defect in the engine itself our engineer
was not clear. It was therefore necessary to make for home in good
time, in case of extensive repairs being required. In spite of these
difficulties, we had a quite respectable collection of samples of
water and temperatures at different depths before we set our course
for Norway at the beginning of July, with Bergen as our destination.

During the passage from the Pentland Firth we had a violent gale from
the north, which gave us an opportunity of experiencing how the Fram
behaved in bad weather. The trial was by no means an easy one. It
was blowing a gale, with a cross sea; we kept going practically
under full sail, and had the satisfaction of seeing our ship make
over nine knots. In the rather severe rolling the collar of the mast
in the fore-cabin was loosened a little; this let the water in, and
there was a slight flooding of Lieutenant Nilsen’s cabin and mine. The
others, whose berths were to port, were on the weather side, and kept
dry. We came out of it all with the loss of a few boxes of cigars,
which were wet through. They were not entirely lost for all that;
Rцnne took charge of them, and regaled himself with salt and mouldy
cigars for six months afterwards. Going eight or nine knots an hour,
we did not make much of the distance between Scotland and Norway. On
the afternoon of Saturday, July 9, the wind dropped, and at the same
time the lookout reported land in sight. This was Siggen on Bцmmelц. In
the course of the night we came under the coast, and on Sunday morning,
July 10, we ran into Sжlbjцmsfjord. We had no detailed chart of this
inlet, but after making a great noise with our powerful air-siren,
we at last roused the inmates of the pilot-station, and a pilot
came aboard. He showed visible signs of surprise when he found out,
by reading the name on the ship’s side, that it was the Fram he had
before him. “Lord, I thought you were a Russian!” he exclaimed. This
supposition was presumably intended to serve as a sort of excuse for
his small hurry in coming on board.

It was a lovely trip through the fjords to Bergen, as warm and
pleasant in here as it had been bitter and cold outside. We had a
dead calm all day, and with the four knots an hour, which was all
the motor could manage, it was late in the evening when we anchored
off the naval dockyard in Solheimsvik. Our stay in Bergen happened
at the time of the exhibition, and the committee paid the expedition
the compliment of giving all its members free passes.

Business of one kind and another compelled me to go to Christiania,
leaving the Fram in charge of Lieutenant Nilsen. They had their
hands more than full on board. Diesel’s firm in Stockholm sent their
experienced fitter, Aspelund, who at once set to work to overhaul the
motor thoroughly. The work that had to be done was executed gratis by
the Laxevaag engineering works. After going into the matter thoroughly,
it was decided to change the solar oil we had on board for refined
petroleum. Through the courtesy of the West of Norway Petroleum
Company, we got this done on very favourable terms at the company’s
storage dock in Skaalevik. This was troublesome work, but it paid in
the future.

The samples of water from our trip were taken to the biological
station, where Kutschin at once went to work with the filtering
(determination of the proportion of chlorine).

Our German shipmate, the oceanographer Schroer, left us at Bergen. On
July 23 the Fram left Bergen, and arrived on the following day at
Christiansand, where I met her. Here we again had a series of busy
days. In one of the Custom-house warehouses were piled a quantity
of things that had to go on board: no less than 400 bundles of dried
fish, all our ski and sledging outfit, a waggon-load of timber, etc. At
Fredriksholm, out on Flekkerц, we had found room for perhaps the most
important of all — the passengers, the ninety-seven Eskimo dogs,
which had arrived from Greenland in the middle of July on the steamer
Hans Egede. The ship had had a rather long and rough passage, and the
dogs were not in very good condition on their arrival, but they had
not been many days on the island under the supervision of Hassel and
Lindstrцm before they were again in full vigour. A plentiful supply
of fresh meat worked wonders. The usually peaceful island, with the
remains of the old fortress, resounded day by day, and sometimes at
night, with the most glorious concerts of howling. These musical
performances attracted a number of inquisitive visitors, who were
anxious to submit the members of the chorus to a closer examination,
and therefore, at certain times, the public were admitted to see the
animals. It soon turned out that the majority of the dogs, far from
being ferocious or shy, were, on the contrary, very appreciative of
these visits. They sometimes came in for an extra tit-bit in the form
of a sandwich or something of the sort. Besides which, it was a little
diversion in their life of captivity, so uncongenial to an Arctic dog;
for every one of them was securely chained up. This was necessary,
especially to prevent fighting among themselves. It happened not
infrequently that one or more of them got loose, but the two guardians
were always ready to capture the runaways. One enterprising rascal
started to swim over the sound to the nearest land — the object of
his expedition was undoubtedly certain unsuspecting sheep that were
grazing by the shore — but his swim was interrupted in time.

After the Fram’s arrival Wisting took over the position of dog-keeper
in Hassel’s place. He and Lindstrцm stayed close to the island where
the dogs were. Wisting had a way of his own with his four-footed
subjects, and was soon on a confidential footing with them. He also
showed himself to be possessed of considerable veterinary skill — an
exceedingly useful qualification in this case, where there was often
some injury or other to be attended to. As I have already mentioned,
up to this time no member of the expedition, except Lieutenant Nilsen,
knew anything of the extension of plan that had been made. Therefore,
amongst the things that came on board, and amongst the preparations
that were made during our stay at Christiansand, there must have
been a great deal that appeared very strange to those who, for the
present, were only looking forward to a voyage round Cape Horn to San
Francisco. What was the object of taking all these dogs on board and
transporting them all that long way? And if it came to that, would any
of them survive the voyage round the formidable promontory? Besides,
were there not dogs enough, and good dogs too, in Alaska? Why was
the whole after-deck full of coal? What was the use of all these
planks and boards? Would it not have been much more convenient to
take all that kind of goods on board in ‘Frisco? These and many
similar questions began to pass from man to man; indeed, their very
faces began to resemble notes of interrogation. Not that anyone asked
me — far from it; it was the second in command who had to bear the
brunt and answer as well as he could — an extremely thankless and
unpleasant task for a man who already had his hands more than full.

In order to relieve his difficult situation, I resolved, shortly before
leaving Christiansand, to inform Lieutenants Prestrud and Gjertsen
of the true state of affairs. After having signed an undertaking of
secrecy, they received full information of the intended dash to the
South Pole, and an explanation of the reasons for keeping the whole
thing secret. When asked whether they wished to take part in the
new plan, they both answered at once in the affirmative, and that
settled it.

There were now three men on board — all the officers — who were
acquainted with the situation, and were thus in a position to parry
troublesome questions and remove possible anxieties on the part of
the uninitiated.

Two of the members of the expedition joined during the stay at
Christiansand — Hassel and Lindstrцm — and one change was made:
the engineer Eliassen was discharged. It was no easy matter to find
a man who possessed the qualifications for taking over the post of
engineer to the Fram. Few, or perhaps no one, in Norway could be
expected to have much knowledge of motors of the size of ours. The
only thing to be done was to go to the place where the engine was
built — to Sweden. Diesel’s firm in Stockholm helped us out of the
difficulty; they sent us the man, and it afterwards turned out that
he was the right man. Knut Sundbeck was his name. A chapter might be
written on the good work that man did, and the quiet, unostentatious
way in which he did it. From the very beginning he had assisted in
the construction of the Fram’s motor, so that he knew his engine
thoroughly. He treated it as his darling; therefore there was never
anything the matter with it. It may truly be said that he did honour
to his firm and the nation to which he belongs.

Meanwhile we were hard at work, getting ready to sail. We decided to
leave before the middle of August — the sooner the better.

The Fram had been in dry dock, where the hull was thoroughly coated
with composition. Heavily laden as the ship was, the false keel was
a good deal injured by the severe pressure on the blocks, but with
the help of a diver the damage was quickly made good.

The many hundred bundles of dried fish were squeezed into the main
hold, full as it was. All sledging and ski outfit was carefully stowed
away, so as to be protected as far as possible from damp. These
things had to be kept dry, otherwise they, would become warped and
useless. Bjaaland had charge of this outfit, and he knew how it should
be treated.

As is right and proper, when all the goods had been shipped, it was
the turn of the passengers. The Fram was anchored off Fredriksholm,
and the necessary preparations were immediately made for receiving
our four-footed friends. Under the expert direction of

Bjaaland and Stubberud, as many as possible of the crew were set to
work with axe and saw, and in the course of a few hours the Fram had
got a new deck. This consisted of loose pieces of decking, which could
easily be raised and removed for flushing and cleaning. This false
deck rested on three-inch planks nailed to the ship’s deck; between
the latter and the loose deck there was therefore a considerable space,
the object of which was a double one — namely, to let the water, which
would unavoidably be shipped on such a voyage, run off rapidly, and
to allow air to circulate, and thus keep the space below the animals
as cool as possible. The arrangement afterwards proved very successful.

The bulwarks on the fore-part of the Fram’s deck consisted of an iron
railing covered with wire-netting. In order to provide both shade and
shelter from the wind, a lining of boards was now put up along the
inside of the railing, and chains were fastened in all possible and
impossible places to tie the dogs up to. There could be no question of
letting them go loose — to begin with, at any rate; possibly, we might
hope to be able to set them free later on, when they knew their masters
better and were more familiar with their surroundings generally.

Late in the afternoon of August 9 we were ready to receive our new
shipmates, and they were conveyed across from the island in a big
lighter, twenty at a time. Wisting and Lindstrцm superintended the
work of transport, and maintained order capitally. They had succeeded
in gaining the dogs’ confidence, and at the same time their complete
respect — just what was wanted, in fact. At the Fram’s gangway the
dogs came in for an active and determined reception, and before they
had recovered from their surprise and fright, they were securely
fastened on deck and given to understand with all politeness that
the best thing they could do for the time being was to accept the
situation with calmness. The whole proceeding went so rapidly that
in the course of a couple of hours we had all the ninety-seven dogs
on board and had found room for them; but it must be added that the
Fram’s deck was utilized to the utmost. We had thought we should be
able to keep the bridge free, but this could not be done if we were
to take them all with us. The last boat-load, fourteen in number, had
to be accommodated there. All that was left was a little free space
for the man at the wheel. As for the officer of the watch, it looked
as if he would be badly off for elbow-room; there was reason to fear
that he would be compelled to kill time by standing stock-still in
one spot through the whole watch; but just then there was no time for
small troubles of this sort. No sooner was the last dog on board than
we set about putting all visitors ashore, and then the motor began
working the windlass under the forecastle. “The anchor’s up!” Full
speed ahead, and the voyage towards our goal, 16,000 miles away,
was begun. Quietly and unobserved we went out of the fjord at dusk;
a few of our friends accompanied us out.

After the pilot had left us outside Flekkerц, it was not long before
the darkness of the August evening hid the outlines of the country
from our view; but Oxц and Ryvingen flashed their farewells to us
all through the night.

We had been lucky with wind and weather at the commencement of our
Atlantic cruise in the early summer; this time we were, if possible,
even more favoured. It was perfectly calm when we sailed, and the
North Sea lay perfectly calm for several days after. What we had
to do now was to become familiar with and used to, all these dogs,
and this was enormously facilitated by the fact that for the first
week we experienced nothing but fine weather.

Before we sailed there was no lack of all kinds of prophecies of the
evil that would befall us with our dogs. We heard a number of these
predictions; presumably a great many more were whispered about, but
did not reach our ears. The unfortunate beasts were to fare terribly
badly. The heat of the tropics would make short work of the greater
part of them. If any were left, they would have but a miserable respite
before being washed overboard or drowned in the seas that would come
on deck in the west wind belt. To keep them alive with a few bits of
dried fish was an impossibility, etc.

As everyone knows, all these predictions were very far from being
fulfilled; the exact opposite happened. Since then I expect most of us
who made the trip have been asked the question — Was not that voyage
to the South an excessively wearisome and tedious business? Didn’t
you get sick of all those dogs? How on earth did you manage to keep
them alive?

It goes without saying that a five months’ voyage in such waters as we
were navigating must necessarily present a good deal of monotony; how
much will depend on what resources one has for providing occupation. In
this respect we had in these very dogs just what was wanted. No doubt
it was work that very often called for the exercise of patience;
nevertheless, like any other work, it furnished diversion and
amusement, and so much the more since we here had to deal with living
creatures that had sense enough fully to appreciate and reciprocate
in their own way any advance that was made to them.

From the very first I tried in every way to insist upon the paramount
importance to our whole enterprise of getting our draught animals
successfully conveyed to our destination. If we had any watchword at
this time it was: “Dogs first, and dogs all the time.” The result
speaks best for the way in which this watchword was followed. The
following was the arrangement we made: The dogs, who at first were
always tied up on the same spot, were divided into parties of ten; to
each party one or two keepers were assigned, with full responsibility
for their animals and their treatment. For my own share I took the
fourteen that lived on the bridge. Feeding the animals was a manoeuvre
that required the presence of all hands on deck; it therefore took
place when the watch was changed. The Arctic dog’s greatest enjoyment
in life is putting away his food; it may be safely asserted that
the way to his heart lies through his dish of meat. We acted on this
principle, and the result did not disappoint us. After the lapse of
a few days the different squads were the best of friends with their
respective keepers.

As may be supposed, it was not altogether to the taste of the dogs to
stand chained up all the time; their temperament is far too lively for
that. We would gladly have allowed them the pleasure of running about
and thus getting healthy exercise, but for the present we dared not run
the risk of letting the whole pack loose. A little more education was
required first. It was easy enough to win their affection; to provide
them with a good education was of course a more difficult matter. It
was quite touching to see their joy and gratitude when one gave up
a little time to their entertainment. One’s first meeting with them
in the morning was specially cordial. Their feelings were then apt
to find vent in a chorus of joyful howls; this was called forth by
the very sight of their masters, but they asked more than that. They
were not satisfied until we had gone round, patting and talking to
every one. If by chance one was so careless as to miss a dog, he at
once showed the most unmistakable signs of disappointment.

There can hardly be an animal that is capable of expressing its
feelings to the same extent as the dog. Joy, sorrow, gratitude,
scruples of conscience, are all reflected as plainly as could be
desired in his behaviour, and above all in his eyes. We human beings
are apt to cherish the conviction that we have a monopoly of what is
called a living soul; the eyes, it is said, are the mirror of this
soul. That is all right enough; but now take a look at a dog’s eyes,
study them attentively. How often do we see something “human” in their
expression, the same variations that we meet with in human eyes. This,
at all events, is something that strikingly resembles “soul.” We will
leave the question open for those who are interested in its solution,
and will here only mention another point, which seems to show that
a dog is something more than a mere machine of flesh and blood —
his pronounced individuality. There were about a hundred dogs on
board the Fram. Gradually, as we got to know each one of them by
daily intercourse, they each revealed some characteristic trait, some
peculiarity. Hardly two of them were alike, either in disposition or
in appearance. To an observant eye there was here ample opportunity
for the most amusing exercise. If now and then one grew a little
tired of one’s fellow-men — which, I must admit, seldom happened —
there was, as a rule, diversion to be found in the society of the
animals. I say, as a rule; there were, of course, exceptions. It was
not an unmixed pleasure having the whole deck full of dogs for all
those months; our patience was severely tested many a time. But in
spite of all the trouble and inconvenience to which the transport of
the dogs necessarily gave rise, I am certainly right in saying that
these months of sea voyage would have seemed far more monotonous and
tedious if we had been without our passengers.

During the first four or five days we had now been making our way
towards the Straits of Dover, and the hope began to dawn within us
that this time, as last, we should slip through without any great
difficulty. There had been five days of absolute calm; why should it
not last out the week? But it did not. As we passed the lightship at
the western end of the Goodwins the fine weather left us, and in its
place came the south-west wind with rain, fog, and foul weather in
its train. In the course of half an hour it became so thick that it
was impossible to see more than two or three ship’s lengths ahead;
but if we could see nothing, we heard all the more. The ceaseless
shrieks of many steam-whistles and sirens told us only too plainly
what a crowd of vessels we were in. It was not exactly a pleasant
situation; our excellent ship had many good points, but they did not
prevent her being extraordinarily slow and awkward in turning. This is
an element of great danger in these waters. It must be remembered that
a possible accident — whether our own fault or not — would to us be
absolutely fatal. We had so little time to spare that the resulting
delay might ruin the whole enterprise. An ordinary trading vessel can
take the risk; by careful manoeuvring a skipper can almost always keep
out of the way. Collisions are, as a rule, the result of rashness
or carelessness on one side or the other. The rash one has to pay;
the careful one may perhaps make money out of it. Carefulness on our
part was a matter of course; it would have been a poor consolation
to us if another ship had had to pay for her carelessness. We could
not take that risk; therefore, little as we liked doing so, we put
into the Downs and anchored there.

Right opposite to us we had the town of Deal, then in the height
of its season. The only amusement we had was to observe all these
apparently unconcerned people, who passed their time in bathing, or
walking about the white, inviting sands. They had no need to worry
themselves much about what quarter the wind blew from. Our only wish
was that it would veer, or in any case drop. Our communication with
the land was limited to sending ashore telegrams and letters for home.

By the next morning our patience was already quite exhausted, but
not so with the south-wester. It kept going as steadily as ever,
but it was clear weather, and therefore we decided at once to make
an attempt to get to the west. There was nothing to be done but
to have recourse to the ancient method of beating. We cleared one
point, and then another, but more than that we could not manage for
the time being. We took one bearing after another; no, there was no
visible progress. Off Dungeness we had to anchor again, and once more
console ourselves with the much-vaunted balm of patience. This time
we escaped with passing the night there. The wind now thought fit to
veer sufficiently to let us get out at daybreak, but it was still a
contrary wind, and we had to beat almost all the way down the English
Channel. A whole week was spent in doing these three hundred miles;
that was rather hard, considering the distance we had to go.

I fancy most of us gave a good sigh of relief when at last we were
clear of the Scilly Isles. The everlasting south-west wind was still
blowing, but that did not matter so much now. The main thing was
that we found ourselves in open sea with the whole Atlantic before
us. Perhaps one must have sailed in the Fram to be able fully to
understand what a blessing it was to feel ourselves altogether clear
of the surrounding land and the many sailing-ships in the Channel —
to say nothing of constantly working the ship with a deck swarming with
dogs. On our first voyage through the Channel in June we had caught
two or three carrier pigeons, which had come to rest in the rigging
utterly tired out. On the approach of darkness we were able to get
hold of them without difficulty. Their numbers and marks were noted,
and after they had been taken care of for a couple of days and had
recovered their strength, we let them go. They circled once or twice
round the mast-heads, and then made for the English coast.

I think this episode led to our taking a few carrier pigeons with us
when we left Christiansand; Lieutenant Nilsen, as a former owner of
pigeons, was to take charge of them. Then a nice house was made for
them, and the pigeons lived happily in their new abode on the top
of the whale-boat amidships. Now, in some way or other the second
in command found out that the circulation of air in the pigeon-house
was faulty; to remedy this defect, he one day set the door a little
ajar. Air certainly got into the house, but the pigeons came out. A
joker, on discovering that the birds had flown, wrote up “To Let”
in big letters on the wall of the pigeon-house. The second in command
was not in a very gentle frame of mind that day.

As far as I know, this escape took place in the Channel. The pigeons
found their way home to Norway.

The Bay of Biscay has a bad name among seamen, and it fully deserves
it; that tempestuous corner of the sea conceals for ever in its
depths so many a stout ship and her crew. We for our part, however,
had good hopes of escaping unharmed, considering the time of year,
and our hopes were fulfilled. We had better luck than we dared to
anticipate. Our stubborn opponent, the south-west wind, got tired at
last of trying to stop our progress; it was no use. We went slowly,
it was true, but still we got along. Of the meteorological lessons
of our youth, we especially recalled at that moment the frequent
northerly winds off the coast of Portugal, and as a pleasant surprise
we already had them far up in the Bay. This was an agreeable change
after all our close-hauled tacking in the Channel. The north wind held
almost as bravely as the south-west had done before, and at what was
to our ideas quite a respectable rate, we went southward day after day
towards the fine-weather zone, where we could be sure of a fair wind,
and where a sailor’s life is, as a rule, a pleasant one.

For that matter, as far as seamanship was concerned, our work
had gone on smoothly enough, even during these first difficult
weeks. There were always willing and practised hands enough for what
was wanted, even though the work to be done was frequently of a not
very pleasant kind. Take washing decks, for instance. Every seaman
will have something to say about what this is like on board ships
that carry live animals, especially when these are carried on deck,
in the way of all work that has to be done. I have always held the
opinion that a Polar ship ought not, any more than any other vessel,
to be a wholesale establishment for dirt and filth, however many dogs
there may be on board. On the contrary, I should say that on voyages
of this kind it is more than ever vitally necessary to keep one’s
surroundings as clean and sweet as possible. The important thing is
to get rid of anything that may have a demoralizing and depressing
effect. The influence of uncleanliness in this way is so well known
that it is needless to preach about it here.

My views were shared by everyone on board the Fram, and everything
was done to act in accordance with them, in spite of what may
be considered great difficulties. Twice a day the whole deck was
thoroughly washed down, besides all the extra turns at odd times with
bucket and scrubber. At least once a week the whole of the loose deck
was taken up, and each separate part of it thoroughly washed, until
it was as clean as when it was laid down at Christiansand. This was
a labour that required great patience and perseverance on the part of
those who had to perform it, but I never saw any shortcomings. “Let’s
just see and get it clean,” they said.

At night, when it was not always easy to see what one was doing,
it might often happen that one heard some more or less heated
exclamations from those who had to handle coils of rope in working
the ship. I need not hint more explicitly at the cause of them,
if it is remembered that there were dogs lying about everywhere,
who had eaten and drunk well in the course of the day. But after a
time the oaths gave way to jokes. There is nothing in the world that
custom does not help us to get over.

It is the universal practice on board ship to divide the day and
night into watches of four hours; the two watches into which the
crew is divided relieve each other every four hours. But on vessels
that sail to the Arctic Ocean, it is customary to have watches of six
hours. We adopted the latter plan, which, on its being put to the vote,
proved to have a compact majority in its favour. By this arrangement
of watches we only had to turn out twice in the course of twenty-four
hours, and the watch below had had a proper sleep whenever it turned
out. If one has to eat, smoke, and perhaps chat a little during four
hours’ watch below, it does not leave much time for sleeping; and if
there should be a call for all hands on deck, it means no sleep at all.

To cope with the work of the engine-room, we had from the beginning the
two engineers, Sundbeck and Nцdtvedt; they took watch and watch, four
hours each. When the motor was in use for a long time continuously,
this was a rather severe duty, and on the whole it was just as well
to have a man in reserve. I therefore decided to have a third man
trained as reserve engineer. Kristensen applied for this post, and it
may be said in his praise that he accomplished the change remarkably
well. Thorough deck-hand as he was, there might have been reason to
fear that he would repent of the transfer; but no, he quickly became
life and soul an engineer. This did not prevent our seeing him on
deck again many a time during the passage through the west wind belt,
when there was need of a good man during a gale.

The motor, which during the Atlantic cruise had been a constant source
of uneasiness and anxiety, regained our entire confidence under
Sundbeck’s capable command; it hummed so that it was a pleasure to
hear it. To judge from the sound of the engine-room, one would have
thought the Fram was moving through the water with the speed of a
torpedo-boat. If this was not the case, the engine was not to blame;
possibly, the screw had a share of it. The latter ought probably
to have been somewhat larger, though experts are not agreed about
this; in any case, there was something radically wrong with our
propeller. Whenever there was a little seaway, it was apt to work
loose in the brasses. This disadvantage is of very common occurrence
in vessels which have to be fitted with lifting propellers on account
of the ice, and we did not escape it. The only remedy was to lift the
whole propeller-frame and renew the brasses — an extremely difficult
work when it had to be done in the open sea and on as lively a ship
as the Fram.

Day by day we had the satisfaction of seeing how the dogs found
themselves more and more at home on board. Perhaps, even among
ourselves, there were one or two who had felt some doubt at first
of what the solution of the dog question would be, but in any case
all such doubts were soon swept away. Even at an early stage of the
voyage we had every reason to hope that we should land our animals
safe and sound. What we had to see to in the first place was to let
them have as much and as good food as circumstances permitted. As
already mentioned, we had provided ourselves with dried fish for their
consumption. Eskimo dogs do not suffer very greatly from daintiness,
but an exclusive diet of dried fish would seem rather monotonous
in the long-run, even to their appetites, and a certain addition of
fatty substances was necessary, otherwise we should have some trouble
with them. We had on board several great barrels of tallow or fat,
but our store was not so large that we did not have to economize. In
order to make the supply of fat last, and at the same time to induce
our boarders to take as much dried fish as possible, we invented a
mixture which was called by a sailor’s term — dжnge. This must not
be confused with “thrashing,”[4] which was also served out liberally
from time to time, but the dжnge was more in demand. It consisted
of a mixture of chopped-up fish, tallow, and maize-meal, all boiled
together into a sort of porridge. This dish was served three times
a week, and the dogs were simply mad for it. They very soon learned
to keep count of the days when this mess was to be expected, and
as soon as they heard the rattling of the tin dishes in which the
separate portions were carried round, they set up such a noise that
it was impossible to hear oneself speak. Both the preparation and the
serving out of this extra ration were at times rather troublesome,
but it was well worth it. It is quite certain that our complement of
dogs would have made a poor show on arrival at the Bay of Whales if
we had shrunk from the trouble.

The dried fish was not nearly so popular as the dжnge, but to make up
for that there was plenty of it. Not that the dogs themselves ever
thought they could have enough; indeed, they were always stealing
from their neighbours, perhaps more for the sake of the sport than
for anything else. In any case, as a sport it was extremely popular,
and it took many a good hiding to get the rascals to understand
that it could not be allowed. I am afraid, though, that they kept
up their thieving even after they knew very well that it was wrong;
the habit was too old to be corrected. Another habit, and a very bad
one, that these Eskimo dogs have fallen into in the course of ages,
and of which we tried to break them, at all events during the sea
voyage, is their tendency to hold howling concerts. What the real
meaning of these performances may be, whether they are a pastime, or
an expression of gratification or the reverse, we could never decide
to our satisfaction. They began suddenly and without warning. The
whole pack might be lying perfectly still and quiet, when a single
individual, who for that occasion had taken upon himself the part of
leader of the chorus, would set up a long, blood-curdling yowl. If
they were left to themselves, it was not long before the whole pack
joined in, and this infernal din was kept going at full steam for two
or three minutes. The only amusing thing about the entertainment was
its conclusion. They all stopped short at the same instant, just as
a well-trained chorus obeys the baton of its conductor. Those of us,
however, who happened to be in our bunks, found nothing at all amusing
in these concerts, either in the finale or anything else, for they
were calculated to tear the soundest sleeper from his slumbers. But if
one only took care to stop the leader in his efforts the whole affair
was nipped in the bud, and we usually succeeded in doing this. If
there were some who at first were anxious about their night’s rest,
these fears were soon dispersed.

On leaving Norway we had ninety-seven dogs in all, and of these no
less than ten were bitches. This fact justified us in expecting an
increase of the canine population on our voyage to the South, and
our expectations were very soon fulfilled. The first “happy event
” occurred when we had been no more than three weeks at sea. An
incident of this kind may seem in itself of no great importance; to
us, living under conditions in which one day was almost exactly like
another, it was more than enough to be an object of the greatest
interest. Therefore, when the report went round that “Camilla”
had got four shapely youngsters, there was general rejoicing. Two
of the pups, who happened to be of the male sex, were allowed to
live; the females were sent out of this world long before their
eyes were opened to its joys and sorrows. It might be thought that,
seeing we had nearly a hundred grown-up dogs on board, there would
be little opportunity for looking after puppies; that this was done,
nevertheless, with all the care that could be wished, is due in the
first instance to the touching affection of the second in command
for the little ones. From the very first moment he was their avowed
protector. Gradually, as the numbers increased, there was a difficulty
in finding room on the already well-occupied deck. “I’ll take them
in my bunk,” said the second in command. It did not come to that,
but if it had been necessary he would certainly have done so. The
example was catching. Later on, when the little chaps were weaned,
and had begun to take other nourishment, one might see regularly,
after every meal, one after another of the crew coming on deck with
some carefully scraped-up bits of food on his plate; the little hungry
mouths were to have what was left over.

Something more than patience and punctual performance of duty is
displayed in such things as those of which I have been speaking;
it is love of, and a living interest in, one’s work. From what I saw
and heard every day, I was certain that these necessary incentives
were present; although, as far as most of the men were concerned,
our object was still the protracted one of drifting for years in
the Arctic ice. The extension of the plan — the far more imminent
battle with the ice-floes of the South — was still undreamt of by the
majority of the ship’s company. I considered it necessary to keep it
to myself for a little while yet — until our departure from the port
we were now making for: Funchal, Madeira. It may possibly appear to
many people that I was running a pretty big risk in thus putting off
till the last moment the duty of informing my comrades of the very
considerable dйtour we were to make. Suppose some, or perhaps all,
of them had objected! It must be admitted that it was a big risk,
but there were so many risks that had to be taken at that time.

However, as I got to know each man during these first few weeks of our
long voyage, I soon arrived at the conviction that there was nobody
on board the Fram who would try to put difficulties in the way. On
the contrary, I had more and more reason to hope that they would all
receive the news with joy when they heard it; for then their whole
prospect would be so different. Everything had gone with surprising
ease up to this time; in future it would go even better.

It was not without a certain longing that I looked forward to our
arrival at Madeira: it would be grand to be able to speak out! No
doubt the others who knew of the plan were equally eager. Secrets
are neither amusing nor easy to carry about — least of all on board
a ship, where one has to live at such close quarters as we had. We
were chatting together every day, of course, and the uninitiated
could not be deterred from leading the conversation round to the ugly
difficulties that would embitter our lives and hinder our progress
when rounding the Horn. It was likely enough that we should manage
to bring the dogs safely through the tropics once, but whether we
should succeed in doing so twice was more doubtful; and so on to
infinity. It is easier to imagine than to describe how awkward all
this was, and how cunningly one had to choose one’s words to avoid
saying too much. Among inexperienced men there would have been no
great difficulty, but it must be remembered that on the Fram pretty
nearly every second man had spent years of his life in Polar voyages:
a single slight hint to them would have been enough to expose the
whole plan. That neither those on board nor anyone else discovered
it prematurely can only be explained by its being so obvious.

Our ship was a good deal too dependent on wind and weather to
enable us to make any accurate estimate of the time our voyage would
occupy, especially as regards those latitudes in which the winds are
variable. The estimate for the whole voyage was based on an average
speed of four knots, and at this very modest rate, as it may seem,
we ought to arrive at the lce Barrier about the middle of January,
1911. As will be seen later, this was realized with remarkable
exactness. For reaching Madeira we had allowed a month as a reasonable
time. We did a good deal better than this, as we were able to leave
Funchal a month to the day after our departure from Christiansand. We
were always ready to forgive the estimate when it was at fault in
this way.

The delay to which we had been subjected in the English Channel
was fortunately made up along the coast of Spain and to the south
of it. The north wind held until we were in the north-east trade,
and then we were all right. On September 5 our observations at noon
told us that we might expect to see the lights that evening, and
at 10 p.m. the light of San Lorenzo on the little island of Fora,
near Madeira, was reported from the rigging.


From Madeira to the Barrier

On the following morning we anchored in Funchal Roads. My brother
was to arrive at Funchal, by arrangement, early enough to be sure
of preceding us there. It was, however, a good while before we saw
anything of him, and we were already flattering ourselves that we had
arrived first when he was suddenly observed in a boat coming under our
stern. We were able to tell him that all was well on board, and he
brought us a big packet of letters and newspapers that gave us news
of home. A little officious gentleman, who said he was a doctor, and
as such had come in an official capacity to inquire as to the state
of our health, was in an amazing hurry to leave the ship again when,
at the top of the gangway, he found himself confronted with a score
of dogs’ jaws, which at the moment were opened wide on account of the
heat. The learned man’s interest in our health had suddenly vanished;
his thoughts flew to the safety of his own life and limbs.

As Funchal was the last place where we could communicate with the
outside world, arrangements were made for completing our supplies
in every possible way, and in particular we had to take on board all
the fresh water we could. The consumption of this commodity would be
very large, and the possibility of running short had to be avoided
at any price. For the time being we could do no more than fill all
our tanks and every imaginable receptacle with the precious fluid,
and this was done. We took about 1,000 gallons in the long-boat
that was carried just above the main hatch. This was rather a risky
experiment, which might have had awkward consequences in the event of
the vessel rolling; but we consoled ourselves with the hope of fine
weather and a smooth sea during the next few weeks. During the stay at
Funchal the dogs had two good meals of fresh meat as a very welcome
variety in their diet; a fair-sized carcass of a horse disappeared
with impressive rapidity at each of these banquets. For our own
use we naturally took a plentiful supply of vegetables and fruits,
which were here to be had in abundance; it was the last opportunity
we should have of regaling ourselves with such luxuries.

Our stay at Funchal was somewhat longer than was intended at first,
as the engineers found it necessary to take up the propeller and
examine the brasses. This work would occupy two days, and while the
three mechanics were toiling in the heat, the rest of the ship’s
company took the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the town
and its surroundings; the crew had a day’s leave, half at a time. An
excursion was arranged to one of the numerous hotels that are situated
on the heights about the town. The ascent is easily made by means of
a funicular railway, and in the course of the half-hour it takes to
reach the top one is able to get an idea of the luxuriant fertility of
the island. At the hotels one finds a good cuisine, and, of course,
still better wine. It is scarcely necessary to add that we did full
justice to both.

For the descent a more primitive means of transport was employed:
we came down on sledges. It may be startling to hear of sledging in
Madeira, but I must explain that the sledges had wooden runners, and
that the road was paved with a black stone that was very smooth. We
went at a creditable pace down the steep inclines, each sledge being
drawn or pushed by three or four swarthy natives, who seemed to be
possessed of first-rate legs and lungs.

It may be mentioned as a curiosity that the newspapers of Funchal did
not hesitate to connect our expedition with the South Pole. The native
journalists had no idea of the value of the startling piece of news
they were circulating. It was a canard invented on the supposition
that when a Polar ship steers to the south, she must, of course,
be making for the South Pole. In this case the canard happened to be
true. Fortunately for us, it did not fly beyond the shores of Madeira.

By the afternoon of September 9 we could begin to make our preparations
for departure. The engineers had replaced the propeller and tested it;
all supplies were on board, and the chronometers had been checked. All
that remained was to get rid of the importunate bumboat — men who
swarmed round the vessel in their little craft, each looking like
a small floating shop. These obtrusive fellows were quickly sent
off down the gangway: besides ourselves only my brother was left
on board. Now that we were thus completely isolated from the outer
world, the long-expected moment had arrived when I could proceed to
inform all my comrades of my decision, now a year old, to make for
the South. I believe all who were on board will long remember that
sultry afternoon in Funchal Roads. All hands were called on deck:
what they thought of I do not know, but it was hardly Antarctica and
the South Pole. Lieutenant Nilsen carried a big rolled-up chart; I
could see that this chart was the object of many interrogative glances.

Not many words were needed before everyone could see where the
wind lay, and what course we should steer henceforward. The second
in command unrolled his big chart of the southern hemisphere, and
I briefly explained the extended plan, as well as my reasons for
keeping it secret until this time. Now and again I had to glance at
their faces. At first, as might be expected, they showed the most
unmistakable signs of surprise; but this expression swiftly changed,
and before I had finished they were all bright with smiles. I was
now sure of the answer I should get when I finally asked each man
whether he was willing to go on, and as the names were called,
every single man had his “Yes” ready. Although, as I have said,
I had expected it to turn out as it did, it is difficult to express
the joy I felt at seeing how promptly my comrades placed themselves
at my service on this momentous occasion. It appeared, however, that
I was not the only one who was pleased. There was so much life and
good spirits on board that evening that one would have thought the
work was successfully accomplished instead of being hardly begun.

For the present, however, there was not much time to spare
for discussing the news. We had first to see about getting away;
afterwards there would be many months before us. Two hours’ grace was
allowed, in which every man could write to his people at home about
what had just passed. The letters were probably not very long ones;
at all events, they were soon finished. The mail was handed over to
my brother to take to Christiania, from whence the letters were sent
to their respective destinations; but this did not take place until
after the alteration of our plans had been published in the Press.

It had been easy enough to tell my comrades the news, and they could
not have given it a better reception; it was another question what
people at home would say when the intelligence reached their ears. We
afterwards heard that both favourable and unfavourable opinions were
expressed. For the moment we could not trouble ourselves very greatly
with that side of the matter; my brother had undertaken to announce the
way we had taken, and I cannot say that I envied him the task. After
we had all given him a final hearty shake of the hand he left us, and
thereby our communication with the busy world was broken off. We were
left to our own resources. No one can say that the situation oppressed
us greatly. Our long voyage was entered upon as though it were a dance;
there was not a trace of the more or less melancholy feeling that
usually accompanies any parting. The men joked and laughed, while
witticisms, both good and bad, were bandied about on the subject of
our original situation. The anchor came up more quickly than usual,
and after the motor had helped us to escape from the oppressive heat
of the harbour, we had the satisfaction of seeing every sail filled
with the fresh and cooling north-east trade.

The dogs, who must have found the stay at Funchal rather too warm for
their taste, expressed their delight at the welcome breeze by getting
up a concert. We felt we could not grudge them the pleasure this time.

It was pure enjoyment to come on deck the morning after leaving
Madeira; there was an added note of friendliness in every man’s
“Good-morning,” and a smile twinkled in the corner of every eye. The
entirely new turn things had taken, and the sudden change to fresh
fields for thought and imagination, acted as a beneficent stimulus
to those who, the day before, had contemplated a trip round the
Horn. I think what chiefly amused them was their failure to smell a
rat before. “How could I have been such an ass as not to think of it
long ago?” said Beck, as he sent a nearly new quid into the sea. “Of
course, it was as plain as a pikestaff. Here we are with all these
dogs, this fine ‘observation house,’ with its big kitchen-range and
shiny cloth on the table, and everything else. Any fool might have
seen what it meant.” I consoled him with the remark that it is always
easy to be wise after the event, and that I thought it very lucky no
one had discovered our destination prematurely.

Those of us who had been obliged hitherto to keep to themselves what
they knew, and to resort to all kinds of stratagems to avoid making
any disclosure, were certainly no less pleased at being rid of the
secret; now they could talk freely to their heart’s content. If we
had previously had to resort to mystification, there was now nothing
to prevent our laying our cards on the table. So many a conversation
had come to a standstill because those who had a number of questions
to ask did not dare to put them, and those who could have told held
their tongues. Hereafter it would be a very long time before we were
at a loss for subjects of conversation; a theme had suddenly presented
itself, so varied and comprehensive that it was difficult at first
to know where to begin. There were many men on board the Fram with
a wealth of experience gained during years spent within the Arctic
Circle, but to almost all of us the great Antarctic continent was
a terra incognita. I myself was the only man on board who had seen
Antarctica; perhaps one or two of my companions had in former days
passed in the vicinity of an Antarctic iceberg on a voyage round Cape
Horn, but that was all.

What had previously been accomplished in the way of exploration in the
South, and the narratives of the men who had endeavoured to extend
our knowledge of that inhospitable continent, were also things that
very few of the ship’s company had had time or opportunity to study,
nor had they perhaps had any reason to do so. Now there was every
possible reason. I considered it an imperative necessity that every man
should acquaint himself as far as possible with the work of previous
expeditions; this was the only way of becoming in some measure familiar
with the conditions in which we should have to work. For this reason
the Fram carried a whole library of Antarctic literature, containing
everything that has been written by the long succession of explorers
in these regions, from James Cook and James Clark Ross to Captain
Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton. And, indeed, good use was made of
this library. The works of the two last-named explorers were in chief
request; they were read from cover to cover by all who could do so,
and, well written and excellently illustrated as these narratives are,
they were highly instructive. But if ample time was thus devoted to the
theoretical study of our problem, the practical preparations were not
neglected. As soon as we were in the trade-winds, where the virtually
constant direction and force of the wind permitted a reduction of
the watch on deck, the various specialists went to work to put our
extensive wintering outfit in the best possible order. It is true that
every precaution had been taken beforehand to have every part of the
equipment as good and as well adapted to its purpose as possible, but
the whole of it, nevertheless, required a thorough overhauling. With
so complicated an outfit as ours was, one is never really at the end
of one’s work; it will always be found that some improvement or other
can be made. It will appear later that we had our hands more than
full of the preparations for the sledge journey, not only during the
long sea voyage, but also during the still longer Antarctic winter.

Our sailmaker, Rцnne, was transformed into a — well, let us call it
tailor. Rцnne’s pride was a sewing-machine, which he had obtained from
the yard at Horten after considerable use of his persuasive tongue. His
greatest sorrow on the voyage was that, on arriving at the Barrier, he
would be obliged to hand over his treasure to the shore party. He could
not understand what we wanted with a sewing-machine at Framheim. The
first thing he did when the Fram reached Buenos Aires was to explain
to the local representative of the Singer Sewing Machine Company how
absolutely necessary it was to have his loss made good. His gift of
persuasion helped him again, and he got a new machine.

For that matter, it was not surprising that Rцnne was fond of his
machine. He could use it for all sorts of things — sailmaker’s,
shoemaker’s, saddler’s, and tailor’s work was all turned out with
equal celerity. He established his workshop in the chart-house,
and there the machine hummed incessantly through the tropics, the
west wind belt, and the ice-floes too; for, quick as our sailmaker
was with his fingers, the orders poured in even more quickly. Rцnne
was one of those men whose ambition it is to get as much work as
possible done in the shortest possible time, and with increasing
astonishment he saw that here he would never be finished; he might
go at it as hard as he liked — there was always something more. To
reckon up all that he delivered from his workshop during these months
would take us too long; it is enough to say that all the work was
remarkably well done, and executed with admirable rapidity. Perhaps
one of the things he personally prided himself most on having made
was the little three-man tent which was afterwards left at the South
Pole. It was a little masterpiece of a tent, made of thin silk, which,
when folded together, would easily have gone into a fair-sized pocket,
and weighed hardly a kilogram.

At this time we could not count with certainty on the possibility of
all those who made the southern journey reaching latitude 90°. On
the contrary, we had to be prepared for the probability of some
of the party being obliged to turn back. It was intended that we
should use the tent in question, in case it might be decided to let
two or three men make the final dash, and therefore it was made as
small and light as possible. Fortunately we had no need to use it,
as every man reached the goal; and we then found that the best way
of disposing of Rцnne’s work of art was to let it stay there as a mark.

Our sailmaker had no dogs of his own to look after; he had no time
for that. On the other hand, he often assisted me in attending to
my fourteen friends up on the bridge; but he seemed to have some
difficulty in getting on terms of familiarity with the dogs and all
that belonged to them. It did not quite agree with his idea of life
on board ship to have a deck swarming with dogs. He regarded this
abnormal state of things with a sort of scornful compassion. “So you
carry dogs, too, aboard this ship,” he would say, every time he came on
deck and found himself face to face with the “brutes.” The poor brutes,
I am sure, made no attempt to attack Rцnne’s person more than anyone
else’s, but he seemed for a long time to have great doubts about it. I
don’t think he felt perfectly safe until the dogs had been muzzled.

A part of our equipment to which we gave special care was, of course,
the ski; in all probability they would be our chief weapon in the
coming fight. However much we might have to learn from Scott’s and
Shackleton’s narratives, it was difficult for us to understand their
statements that the use of ski on the Barrier was not a success. From
the descriptions that were given of the nature of the surface and
the general conditions, we were forced to the opposite conclusion,
that ski were the only means to employ. Nothing was spared to provide
a good skiing outfit, and we had an experienced man in charge of it —
Olav Bjaaland. It is sufficient to mention his name. When, on leaving
Norway, it was a question of finding a good place for our twenty pairs
of ski, we found we should have to share our own quarters with them;
they were all disposed under the ceiling of the fore-cabin. At any
rate, we had no better place to put them. Bjaaland, who during the
last month or two had tried his hand at the unaccustomed work of a
seaman, went back to his old trade of ski-maker and carpenter when
we came into the trade-winds. Both ski and bindings were delivered
ready for use by Hagen and Co., of Christiania; it remained to adapt
them, and fit the backstraps to each man’s boots, so that all might
be ready for use on arrival at the Barrier. A full skiing outfit had
been provided for every man, so that those who were to be left on board
might also have a run now and then during their stay at the ice edge.

For each of our ten sledges, Bjaaland made during the voyage a pair
of loose runners, which it was intended to use in the same way as the
Eskimo use theirs. These primitive people have — or, at all events,
had — no material that was suited for shoeing sledge-runners. They
get over the difficulty by covering the runners with a coating of
ice. No doubt it requires a great deal of practice and patience to put
on this kind of shoeing properly, but when it is once on there can be
no question that this device throws all others into the shade. As I
say, we had intended to try this on the Barrier; we found, however,
that the pulling power of our teams was so good as to allow us to
retain our steel-shod runners with an easy conscience.

For the first fourteen days after leaving Madeira the north-east trade
was fresh enough to enable us to keep up our average rate, or a little
more, with the help of the sails alone. The engine was therefore
allowed a rest, and the engineers had an opportunity of cleaning
and polishing it; this they did early and late, till it seemed as if
they could never get it bright enough. Nцdtvedt now had a chance of
devoting himself to the occupation which is his delight in this world
— that of the blacksmith; and, indeed, there was opportunity enough
for his use of the hammer and anvil. If Rцnne had plenty of sewing,
Nцdtvedt had no less forging — sledge-fittings, knives, pickaxes,
bars and bolts, patent hooks by the hundred for dogs, chains, and so
on to infinity. The clang and sparks of the anvil were going all day
long till we were well into the Indian Ocean. And in the westerly
belt the blacksmith’s lot was not an enviable one; it is not always
easy to hit the nail on the head when one’s feet rest on so unstable
a foundation as the Fram’s deck, nor is it altogether pleasant when
the forge is filled with water several times a day.

While we were fitting out for the voyage, the cry was constantly
raised in certain quarters at home that the old Fram’s hull was in a
shocking state. It was said to be in bad repair, to leak like a sieve
— in fact, to be altogether rotten. It throws a curious light on these
reports when we look at the voyages that the Fram has accomplished in
the last two years. For twenty months out of twenty-four she has kept
going in open sea, and that, too, in waters which make very serious
demands on a vessel’s strength. She is just as good as when she sailed,
and could easily do it all over again without any repairs. We who were
on board all knew perfectly well before we sailed how groundless and
foolish these cries about her “rottenness” were; we knew, too, that
there is scarcely a wooden ship afloat on which it is not necessary
to use the pumps now and then. When the engine was stopped, we found
it was sufficient to take a ten minutes’ turn at the hand-pump every
morning; that was all the “leaking” amounted to. Oh no! there was
nothing wrong with the Fram’s hull. On the other hand, there might be
a word or two to say about the rigging; if this was not all it should
have been, the fault lay entirely with the plaguy considerations of our
budget. On the foremast we had two squaresails; there ought to have
been four. On the jib-boom there were two staysails; there was room
enough for three, but the money would not run to it. In the Trades
we tried to make up for the deficiency by rigging a studding-sail
alongside the foresail and a sky-sail above the topsail. I will not
assert that these improvised sails contributed to improve the vessel’s
appearance, but they got her along, and that is a great deal more
important. We made very fair progress southward during these September
days, and before the month was half over we had come a good way into
the tropical belt. No particularly tropical heat was felt, at any
rate by us men; and as a rule the heat is not severely felt on board
ship in open sea so long as the vessel is moving. On a sailing-ship,
lying becalmed with the sun in the zenith, it might be warmer than
one would wish; but in case of calms we had the engine to help us, so
that there was always a little breeze — that is, on deck. Down below
it was worse; sometimes “hoggishly mild,” as Beck used to put it. Our
otherwise comfortable cabins had one fault; there were no portholes
in the ship’s side, and therefore we could not get a draught; but
most of us managed without shifting our quarters. Of the two saloons,
the fore-saloon was decidedly preferable in warm weather; in a cold
climate probably the reverse would be the case. We were able to
secure a thorough draught of air forward through the alleyway leading
to the forecastle; it was difficult to get a good circulation aft,
where they also had the warm proximity of the engine. The engineers,
of course, had the hottest place, but the ever-inventive Sundbeck
devised a means of improving the ventilation of the engine-room,
so that even there they were not so badly off under the circumstances.

One often hears it asked, Which is to be preferred, severe heat or
severe cold? It is not easy to give a definite answer; neither of
the two is pleasant, and it must remain a matter of taste which is
least so. On board ship no doubt most people will vote for heat, as,
even if the days are rather distressing, one has the glorious nights
to make up for them. A bitterly cold day is poorly compensated for
by an even colder night.

One decided advantage of a warm climate for men who have to be
frequently in and out of their clothes and their bunks is the
simplicity of costume which it allows. When you wear hardly anything
it takes a very short time to dress.

If we had been able to take the opinion of our dogs on their existence
in the tropics, they would probably have answered as one dog: “Thanks,
let us get back to rather cooler surroundings.” Their coats were not
exactly calculated for a temperature of 90° in the shade, and the
worst of it was that they could not change them. It is, by the way,
a misunderstanding to suppose that these animals absolutely must have
hard frost to be comfortable; on the contrary, they prefer to be nice
and warm. Here in the tropics of course they had rather too much of
a good thing, but they did not suffer from the heat. By stretching
awnings over the whole ship we contrived that they should all be
constantly in the shade, and so long as they were not directly exposed
to the sun’s rays, there was no fear of anything going wrong. How
well they came through it appears best from the fact that not one of
them was on the sick-list on account of the heat. During the whole
voyage only two deaths occurred from sickness — one was the case of
a bitch that died after giving birth to eight pups — which might
just as easily have caused her death under other conditions. What
was the cause of death in the other case we were unable to find out;
at any rate, it was not an infectious disease.

One of our greatest fears was the possibility of an epidemic among
the dogs, but thanks to the care with which they had been picked,
there was never a sign of anything of the sort.

In the neighbourhood of the Equator, between the north-east and
the south-east trades, lies what is called the “belt of calms.” The
position and extent of this belt vary somewhat with the season. If
you are extremely lucky, it may happen that one trade-wind will
practically take you over into the other; but, as a rule, this region
will cause quite a serious delay to sailing-ships; either there are
frequent calms, or shifting and unsteady winds. We arrived there at
an unfavourable time of the year and lost the north-east trade as
early as ten degrees north of the line. If we had had the calms we
looked for, we could have got across with the help of the engine in
a reasonably short time, but we saw very little sign of calms. As a
rule, there was an obstinate south wind blowing, and it would not have
taken very much of it to make the last few degrees of north latitude
stiffer than we cared for.

The delay was annoying enough, but we had another disappointment
of a more serious kind, for, curiously enough, we never had a
proper shower of rain. Generally in these latitudes one encounters
extremely heavy downpours, which make it possible to collect water
by the barrelful in a very short space of time. We had hoped in this
way to increase our store of fresh water, which was not so large
but that extreme economy had to be practised if we were to avoid
running short. However, this hope failed us, practically speaking. We
managed to catch a little water, but it was altogether insufficient,
and the husbanding of our supply had to be enforced in future with
authority. The dogs required their daily ration, and they got it —
measured out to a hair’s-breadth. Our own consumption was limited
to what was strictly necessary; soups were banished from the bill
of fare, they used too much of the precious fluid; washing in fresh
water was forbidden. It must not be supposed from this that we had
no opportunity of washing. We had a plentiful supply of soap, which
lathered just as well in salt water as in fresh, and was thus capable
of keeping ourselves and our clothes as clean as before. If for a time
we had felt a certain anxiety about our water-supply, these fears were
banished comparatively quickly, as the reserve we had taken in the
long-boat on deck lasted an incredibly long time, almost twice as long
as we had dared to hope, and this saved the situation, or very nearly
so. If the worst came to the worst, we should be obliged to call at one
of the numerous groups of islands that would lie in our route later on.

For over six weeks the dogs had now been chained up in the places
assigned to them when they came on board. In the course of that time
most of them had become so tame and tractable that we thought we
might soon let them loose. This would be a welcome change for them,
and, what was more important, it would give them an opportunity for
exercise. To tell the truth, we also expected some amusement from
it; there would certainly be a proper shindy when all this pack got
loose. But before we gave them their liberty we were obliged to
disarm them, otherwise the inevitable free fight would be liable
to result in one or more of them being left on the battle-field,
and we could not afford that. Every one of them was provided with a
strong muzzle; then we let them loose and waited to see what would
happen. At first nothing at all happened; it looked as if they had
abandoned once for all the thought of ever moving from the spot they
had occupied so long At last a solitary individual had the bright idea
of attempting a walk along the deck. But he should not have done so;
it was dangerous to move about here. The unaccustomed sight of a
loose dog at once aroused his nearest neighbours. A dozen of them
flung themselves upon the unfortunate animal who had been the first
to leave his place, rejoicing in the thought of planting their teeth
in his sinful body. But to their disappointment the enjoyment was
not so great as they expected. The confounded strap round their jaws
made it impossible to get hold of the skin; the utmost they could do
was to pull a few tufts of hair out of the object of their violent
onslaught. This affair of outposts gave the signal for a general
engagement all along the line. What an unholy row there was for the
next couple of hours! The hair flew, but skins remained intact. The
muzzles saved a good many lives that afternoon.

These fights are the chief amusement of the Eskimo dogs; they follow
the sport with genuine passion. There would be no great objection
to it if they had not the peculiar habit of always combining to set
upon a single dog, who is chosen as their victim for the occasion;
they all make for this one, and if they are left to themselves they
will not stop until they have made an end of the poor beast. In this
way a valuable dog may be destroyed in a moment.

We therefore naturally made every effort from the first to quench their
love of fighting, and the dogs very soon began to understand that we
were not particularly fond of their combats; but we had here to deal
with a natural characteristic, which it was impossible to eradicate;
in any case, one could never be sure that nature would not reassert
itself over discipline. When the dogs had once been let loose, they
remained free to run about wherever they liked for the remainder
of the voyage; only at meal-times were they tied up. It was quite
extraordinary how they managed to hide themselves in every hole and
comer; on some mornings there was hardly a dog to be seen when daylight
came. Of course they visited every place where they ought not to have
gone. Several of them repeatedly took the opportunity of tumbling into
the forehold, when the hatches were open; but a fall of 25 feet did
not seem to trouble them in the least. One even found his way into
the engine-room, difficult as it might seem to gain access to it,
and curled himself up between the piston-rods. Fortunately for the
visitor, the engine was not started while he was there.

When the first furious battles had been fought out, a calm soon
settled upon the dogs’ spirits. It was easy to notice a feeling of
shame and disappointment in the champions when they found that all
their efforts led to nothing. The sport had lost its principal charm
as soon as they saw what a poor chance there was of tasting blood.

From what has here been said, and perhaps from other accounts of the
nature of Arctic dogs, it may appear as though the mutual relations
of these animals consisted exclusively of fighting. This, however,
is far from being the case. On the contrary, they very often form
friendships, which are sometimes so strong that one dog simply cannot
live without the other. Before we let the dogs loose we had remarked
that there were a few who, for some reason or other, did not seem as
happy as they should have been: they were more shy and restless than
the others. No particular notice was taken of this, and no one tried to
find out the cause of it. The day we let them loose we discovered what
had been the matter with the ones that had moped: they had some old
friend who had chanced to be placed in some other part of the deck,
and this separation had been the cause of their low spirits. It was
really touching to see the joy they showed on meeting again; they
became quite different animals. Of course in these cases a change of
places was arranged between the different groups, so that those who
had associated from their own inclination would in future be members
of the same team.

We had expected to reach the Equator by October 1, but the unfavourable
conditions of wind that we met with to the north of it caused us to be
a little behind our reckoning, though not much. On the afternoon of
October 4 the Fram crossed the line. Thus an important stage of the
voyage was concluded: the feeling that we had now reached southern
latitudes was enough to put us all in holiday humour, and we felt
we must get up a modest entertainment. According to ancient custom,
crossing the line should be celebrated by a visit from Father Neptune
himself, whose part is taken for the occasion by someone chosen
from among the ship’s company. If in the course of his inspection
this august personage comes upon anyone who is unable to prove that
he has already crossed the famous circle, he is handed over at once
to the attendants, to be “shaved and baptized.” This process, which
is not always carried out with exaggerated gentleness, causes much
amusement, and forms a welcome variety in the monotonous life of a
long sea voyage, and probably many on board the Fram looked forward
with eagerness to Neptune’s visit, but he did not come. There simply
was no room for him on our already well-occupied deck.

We contented ourselves with a special dinner, followed by coffee,
liqueurs, and cigars. Coffee was served on the fore-deck, where by
moving a number of the dogs we had contrived to get a few square yards
of space. There was no lack of entertainment. A violin and mandolin
orchestra, composed of Prestrud, Sundbeck, and Beck, contributed
several pieces, and our excellent gramophone was heard for the first
time. Just as it started the waltz from “The Count of Luxembourg,”
there appeared in the companion-way a real ballet-girl, masked, and
in very short skirts. This unexpected apparition from a better world
was greeted with warm applause, which was no less vigorous when the
fair one had given proof of her skill in the art of dancing. Behind
the mask could be detected Gjertsen’s face, but both costume and
dance were in the highest degree feminine. Rцnne was not satisfied
until he had the “lady” on his knees — hurrah for illusion!

The gramophone now changed to a swinging American cake-walk, and at
the same moment there opportunely appeared on the scene a nigger in
a tail-coat, a silk hat, and — a pair of wooden shoes. Black as he
was, we saw at once that it was the second in command who had thus
disguised himself. The mere sight of him was enough to set us all
shrieking with laughter, but he made his great success when he began
to dance. He was intensely amusing.

It did us a great deal of good to have a little amusement just then,
for this part of the voyage was a trial of patience more than anything
else. Possibly we were rather hard to please, but the south-east trade,
which we were expecting to meet every day, was, in our opinion, far too
late in coming, and when at length it arrived, it did not behave at all
as becomes a wind that has the reputation of being the steadiest in the
world. Besides being far too light, according to our requirements,
it permitted itself such irregularities as swinging between the
points of south and east, but was mostly in the neighbourhood of
the former. For us, who had to lie all the time close-hauled to the
westward, this had the effect of increasing our western longitude a
great deal faster than our latitude. We were rapidly approaching the
north-eastern point of South America — Cape San Roque. Fortunately
we escaped any closer contact with this headland, which shoots so far
out into the Atlantic. The wind at last shifted aft, but it was so
light that the motor had to be constantly in use. Slowly but surely
we now went southward, and the temperature again began to approach
the limits that are fitting according to a Northerner’s ideas. The
tiresome, rather low awning could be removed, and it was a relief to
be rid of it, as one could then walk upright everywhere.

On October 16, according to the observations at noon, we were in the
vicinity of the island of South Trinidad, one of the lonely oases
in the watery desert of the South Atlantic. It was our intention
to go close under the island, and possibly to attempt a landing;
but unfortunately the motor had to be stopped for cleaning, and
this prevented our approaching it by daylight. We caught a glimpse
of the land at dusk, which was, at all events, enough to check our

South of the 20th degree of latitude the south-east trade was nearly
done with, and we were really not sorry to be rid of it; it remained
light and scant to the last, and sailing on a wind is not a strong
point with the Fram. In the part of the ocean where we now were there
was a hope of getting a good wind, and it was wanted if we were to
come out right: we had now covered 6,000 miles, but there were still
10,000 before us, and the days went by with astonishing rapidity. The
end of October brought the change we wanted; with a fresh northerly
breeze she went gallantly southward, and before the end of the month
we were down in lat. 40°. Here we had reached the waters where we
were almost certain to have all the wind we wished, and from the
right quarter. From now our course was eastward along what is known
as the southern west wind belt. This belt extends between the 40th
and 50th parallels all round the earth, and is distinguished by the
constant occurrence of westerly winds, which as a rule blow with great
violence. We had put our trust in these west winds; if they failed us
we should be in a mess. But no sooner had we reached their domain than
they were upon us with full force; it was no gentle treatment that we
received, but the effect was excellent — we raced to the eastward. An
intended call at Gough Island had to be abandoned; the sea was running
too high for us to venture to approach the narrow little harbour. The
month of October had put us a good deal behindhand, but now we were
making up the distance we had lost. We had reckoned on being south of
the Cape of Good Hope within two months after leaving Madeira, and this
turned out correct. The day we passed the meridian of the Cape we had
the first regular gale; the seas ran threateningly high, but now for
the first time our splendid little ship showed what she was worth. A
single one of these gigantic waves would have cleared our decks
in an instant if it had come on board, but the Fram did not permit
any such impertinence. When they came up behind the vessel, and we
might expect at any moment to see them break over the low after-deck,
she just raised herself with an elegant movement, and the wave had
to be content with slipping underneath. An albatross could not have
managed the situation better. It is said that the Fram was built for
the ice, and that cannot, of course, be denied; but at the same time
it is certain that when Colin Archer created his famous masterpiece
of an ice boat, she was just as much a masterpiece of a sea boat —
a vessel it would be difficult to match for seaworthiness. To be able
to avoid the seas as the Fram did, she had to roll, and this we had
every opportunity of finding out. The whole long passage through the
westerly belt was one continual rolling; but in course of time one
got used even to that discomfort. It was awkward enough, but less
disagreeable than shipping water. Perhaps it was worse for those who
had to work in the galley: it is no laughing matter to be cook, when
for weeks together you cannot put down so much as a coffee-cup without
its immediately turning a somersault. It requires both patience and
strong will to carry it through, but the two — Lindstrцm and Olsen
— who looked after our food under these difficult conditions, had
the gift of taking it all from the humorous point of view, and that
was well.

As regards the dogs, it mattered little to them whether a gale was
blowing, so long as the rain kept off. They hate rain; wet in any form
is the worst one can offer an Arctic dog. If the deck was wet, they
would not lie down, but would remain standing motionless for hours,
trying to take a nap in that uncomfortable position. Of course, they
did not get much sleep in that way, but to make up for it they could
sleep all day and all night when the weather was fine. South of the
Cape we lost two dogs; they went overboard one dark night when the ship
was rolling tremendously. We had a coal-bunker on the port side of the
after-deck, reaching up to the height of the bulwarks; probably these
fellows had been practising boarding drill, and lost their balance. We
took precautions that the same thing should not happen again.

Fortunately for our animals, the weather in the westerly belt was
subject to very frequent changes. No doubt they had many a sleepless
night, with rain, sleet, and hail; but on the other hand they never had
to wait very long for a cheerful glimpse of the sun. The wind is for
the most part of cyclonic character, shifting suddenly from one quarter
to another, and these shifts always involve a change of weather. When
the barometer begins to fall, it is a sure warning of an approaching
north-westerly wind, which is always accompanied by precipitation,
and increases in force until the fall of the barometer ceases. When
this occurs, there follows either a short pause, or else the wind
suddenly shifts to the south-west, and blows from that quarter with
increasing violence, while the barometer rises rapidly. The change
of wind is almost always followed by a clearing of the weather.

A circumstance which contributes an element of risk to navigation in
the latitudes where we found ourselves is the possibility of colliding
with an iceberg in darkness or thick weather; for it sometimes happens
that these sinister monsters in the course of their wanderings find
their way well up into the “forties.” The probability of a collision
is of course in itself not very great, and it can be reduced to
a minimum by taking proper precautions. At night an attentive and
practised look-out man will always be able to see the blink of the
ice at a fairly long distance. From the time when we had to reckon
with any likelihood of meeting icebergs, the temperature of the water
was also taken every two hours during the night.

As Kerguelen Island lay almost directly in the course we intended to
follow, it was decided for several reasons that we should call there,
and pay a visit to the Norwegian whaling-station. Latterly many of
the dogs had begun to grow thin, and it seemed probable that this was
owing to their not having enough fatty substances in their food; on
Kerguelen Island there would presumably be an opportunity of getting
all the fat we wanted. As to water, we had, it was true, just enough to
last us with economy, but it would do no harm to fill up the tanks. I
was also hoping that there would be a chance of engaging three or four
extra hands, for the Fram would be rather short-handed with only ten
men to sail her out of the ice and round the Horn to Buenos Aires after
the rest of us had been landed on the Barrier. Another reason for the
contemplated visit was that it would be an agreeable diversion. We now
only had to get there as quickly as possible, and the west wind helped
us splendidly; one stiff breeze succeeded another, without our having
any excessive weather. Our daily distance at this time amounted as a
rule to about one hundred and fifty miles; in one twenty-four hours
we made one hundred and seventy-four miles. This was our best day’s
work of the whole voyage, and it is no bad performance for a vessel
like the Fram, with her limited sail area and her heavily-laden hull.

On the afternoon of November 28 we sighted land. It was only a barren
rocky knoll, and according to our determination of the position it
would be the island called Bligh’s Cap, which lies a few miles north
of Kerguelen Island; but as the weather was not very clear, and we
were unacquainted with the channels, we preferred to lie-to for the
night before approaching any nearer. Early next morning the weather
cleared, and we got accurate bearings. A course was laid for Royal
Sound, where we supposed the whaling-station to be situated. We were
going well in the fresh morning breeze, and were just about to round
the last headland, when all at once a gale sprang up again, the bare
and uninviting coast was hidden in heavy rain, and we had the choice
of waiting for an indefinite time or continuing our voyage. Without
much hesitation we chose the latter alternative. It might be tempting
enough to come in contact with other men, especially as they were
fellow-countrymen, but it was even more tempting to have done with the
remaining 4,000 miles that lay between us and the Barrier as quickly as
possible. It turned out that we had chosen rightly. December brought us
a fair wind, even fresher than that of November, and by the middle of
the month we had already covered half the distance between Kerguelen
Island and our goal. We fortified the dogs from time to time with
a liberal allowance of butter, which had a marvellous effect. There
was nothing wrong with ourselves; we were all in the best of health,
and our spirits rose as we drew nearer our goal.

That the state of our health was so remarkably good during the whole
voyage must be ascribed in a material degree to the excellence of
our provisions. During the trip from home to Madeira we had lived
sumptuously on some little pigs that we took with us, but after these
luxuries we had to take to tinned meat for good. The change was not
felt much, as we had excellent and palatable things with us. There was
a separate service for the two cabins, but the food was precisely the
same in each. Breakfast was at eight, consisting of American hot cakes,
with marmalade or jam, cheese, fresh bread, and coffee or cocoa. Dinner
as a rule was composed of one dish of meat and sweets. As has already
been said, we could not afford to have soup regularly on account of
the water it required, and it was only served on Sundays. The second
course usually consisted of Californian fruit. It was our aim all
through to employ fruit, vegetables, and jam, to the greatest possible
extent; there is undoubtedly no better means of avoiding sickness. At
dinner we always drank syrup and water; every Wednesday and Saturday
we were treated to a glass of spirits. I knew from my own experience
how delicious a cup of coffee tastes when one turns out to go on
watch at night. However sleepy and grumpy one may be, a gulp of hot
coffee quickly makes a better man of one; therefore coffee for the
night watch was a permanent institution on board the Fram.

By about Christmas we had reached nearly the 150th meridian in
lat. 56° S. This left not much more than 900 miles before we might
expect to meet with the pack-ice. Our glorious west wind, which had
driven us forward for weeks, and freed us from all anxiety about
arriving too late, was now a thing of the past. For a change we again
had to contend for some days with calms and contrary wind. The day
before Christmas Eve brought rain and a gale from the south-west,
which was not very cheerful. If we were to keep Christmas with any
festivity, fine weather was wanted, otherwise the everlasting rolling
would spoil all our attempts. No doubt we should all have got over
it if it had fallen to our lot to experience a Christmas Eve with
storm, shortened sail, and other delights; worse things had happened
before. On the other hand, there was not one of us who would not be
the better for a little comfort and relaxation; our life had been
monotonous and commonplace enough for a long time. But, as I said,
the day before Christmas Eve was not at all promising. The only sign
of the approaching holiday was the fact that Lindstrцm, in spite of
the rolling, was busy baking Christmas cakes. We suggested that he
might just as well give us each our share at once, as it is well known
that the cakes are best when they come straight out of the oven, but
Lindstrцm would not hear of it. His cakes vanished for the time being
under lock and key, and we had to be content with the smell of them.

Christmas Eve arrived with finer weather and a smoother sea than we had
seen for weeks. The ship was perfectly steady, and there was nothing to
prevent our making every preparation for the festivity. As the day wore
on Christmas was in full swing. The fore-cabin was washed and cleaned
up till the Ripolin paint and the brass shone with equal brilliance;
Rцnne decorated the workroom with signal flags, and the good old
“Happy Christmas” greeted us in a transparency over the door of the
saloon. Inside Nilsen was busily engaged, showing great talents as a
decorator. The gramophone was rigged up in my cabin on a board hung
from the ceiling. A proposed concert of piano, violin, and mandolin
had to be abandoned, as the piano was altogether out of tune.

The various members of our little community appeared one after
another, dressed and tidied up so that many of them were scarcely
recognizable. The stubbly chins were all smooth, and that makes a
great difference. At five o’clock the engine was stopped, and all
hands assembled in the fore-cabin, leaving only the man at the wheel
on deck. Our cosy cabins had a fairy-like appearance in the subdued
light of the many-coloured lamps, and we were all in the Christmas
humour at once. The decorations did honour to him who had carried
them out and to those who had given us the greater part of them —
Mrs. Schroer, and the proprietor of the Oyster Cellar at Christiania,
Mr. Ditlev-Hansen.

Then we took our seats round the table, which groaned beneath
Lindstrцm’s masterpieces in the culinary art. I slipped behind
the curtain of my cabin for an instant, and set the gramophone
going. Herold sang us “Glade Jul.”

The song did not fail of its effect; it was difficult to see in the
subdued light, but I fancy that among the band of hardy men that
sat round the table there was scarcely one who had not a tear in
the corner of his eye. The thoughts of all took the same direction,
I am certain — they flew homeward to the old country in the North,
and we could wish nothing better than that those we had left behind
should be as well off as ourselves. The melancholy feeling soon
gave way to gaiety and laughter; in the course of the dinner the
first mate fired off a topical song written by himself, which had
an immense success. In each verse the little weaknesses of someone
present were exhibited in more or less strong relief, and in between
there were marginal remarks in prose. Both in text and performance
the author fully attained the object of his work — that of thoroughly
exercising our risible muscles.

In the after-cabin a well-furnished coffee-table was set out, on
which there was a large assortment of Lindstrцm’s Christmas baking,
with a mighty kransekake from Hansen’s towering in the midst. While
we were doing all possible honour to these luxuries, Lindstrцm was
busily engaged forward, and when we went back after our coffee we
found there a beautiful Christmas-tree in all its glory. The tree was
an artificial one, but so perfectly imitated that it might have come
straight from the forest. This was also a present from Mrs. Schroer.

Then came the distribution of Christmas presents. Among the many
kind friends who had thought of us I must mention the Ladies’
Committees in Horten and Fredrikstad, and the telephone employйes
of Christiania. They all have a claim to our warmest gratitude for
the share they had in making our Christmas what it was — a bright
memory of the long voyage.

By ten o’clock in the evening the candles of the Christmas-tree were
burnt out, and the festivity was at an end. It had been successful
from first to last, and we all had something to live on in our thoughts
when our everyday duties again claimed us.

In that part of the voyage which we now had before us — the region
between the Australian continent and the Antarctic belt of pack-ice —
we were prepared for all sorts of trials in the way of unfavourable
weather conditions. We had read and heard so much of what others had
had to face in these waters that we involuntarily connected them with
all the horrors that may befall a sailor. Not that we had a moment’s
fear for the ship; we knew her well enough to be sure that it would
take some very extraordinary weather to do her any harm. If we were
afraid of anything, it was of delay.

But we were spared either delay or any other trouble; by noon on
Christmas Day we had just what was wanted to keep our spirits at
festival pitch; a fresh north-westerly wind, just strong enough to
push us along handsomely toward our destination. It afterwards hauled
a little more to the west, and lasted the greater part of Christmas
week, until on December 30 we were in long. 170° E. and lat. 60°
S. With that we had at last come far enough to the east, and could now
begin to steer a southerly course; hardly had we put the helm over
before the wind changed to a stiff northerly breeze Nothing could
possibly be better; in this way it would not take us long to dispose
of the remaining degrees of latitude. Our faithful companions of the
westerly belt — the albatrosses — had now disappeared, and we could
soon begin to look out for the first representatives of the winged
inhabitants of Antarctica.

After a careful consideration of the experiences of our predecessors,
it was decided to lay our course so that we should cross the 65th
parallel in long. 175° E. What we had to do was to get as quickly
as possible through the belt of pack-ice that blocked the way to
Ross Sea to the south of it, which is always open in summer. Some
ships had been detained as much as six weeks in this belt of ice;
others had gone through in a few hours. We unhesitatingly preferred
to follow the latter example, and therefore took the course that the
luckier ones had indicated.

Of course, the width of the ice-belt may be subject to somewhat
fortuitous changes, but it seems, nevertheless, that as a rule the
region between the 175th and the 180th degrees of longitude offers the
best chance of getting through rapidly; in any case, one ought not to
enter the ice farther to the west. At noon on New Year’s Eve we were
in lat. 62° 15′ S. We had reached the end of the old year, and really
it had gone incredibly quickly. Like all its predecessors, the year
had brought its share of success and failure; but the main thing was
that at its close we found ourselves pretty nearly where we ought to
be to make good our calculations — and all safe and well. Conscious of
this, we said good-bye to 1910 in all friendliness over a good glass of
toddy in the evening, and wished each other all possible luck in 1911.

At three in the morning of New Year’s Day the officer of the watch
called me with news that the first iceberg was in sight. I had to go up
and see it. Yes, there it lay, far to windward, shining like a castle
in the rays of the morning sun. It was a big, flat-topped berg of the
typical Antarctic form. It will perhaps seem paradoxical when I say
that we all greeted this first sight of the ice with satisfaction and
joy; an iceberg is usually the last thing to gladden sailors’ hearts,
but we were not looking at the risk just then. The meeting with the
imposing colossus had another significance that had a stronger claim
on our interest — the pack-ice could not be far off. We were all
longing as one man to be in it; it would be a grand variation in the
monotonous life we had led for so long, and which we were beginning
to be a little tired of. Merely to be able to run a few yards on an
ice-floe appeared to us an event of importance, and we rejoiced no
less at the prospect of giving our dogs a good meal of seal’s flesh,
while we ourselves would have no objection to a little change of diet.

The number of icebergs increased during the afternoon and night,
and with such neighbours it suited us very well to have daylight all
through the twenty-four hours, as we now had. The weather could not
have been better — fine and clear, with a light but still favourable
wind. At 8 p.m. on January 2 the Antarctic Circle was crossed,
and an hour or two later the crow’s-nest was able to report the
ice-belt ahead. For the time being it did not look like obstructing
us to any great extent; the floes were collected in long lines, with
broad channels of open water between them. We steered right in. Our
position was then long. 176° E. and lat. 66° 30′ S. The ice immediately
stopped all swell, the vessel’s deck again became a stable platform,
and after two months’ incessant exercise of our sea-legs we could
once more move about freely. That was a treat in itself.

At nine in the morning of the next day we had our first opportunity of
seal-hunting; a big Weddell seal was observed on a floe right ahead. It
took our approach with the utmost calmness, not thinking it worth while
to budge an inch until a couple of rifle-bullets had convinced it of
the seriousness of the situation. It then made an attempt to reach
the water, but it was too late. Two men were already on the floe,
and the valuable spoil was secured. In the course of a quarter of an
hour the beast lay on our deck, flayed and cut up by practised hands;
this gave us at one stroke at least four hundredweight of dog food,
as well as a good many rations for men. We made the same coup three
times more in the course of the day, and thus had over a ton of fresh
meat and blubber.

It need scarcely be said that there was a great feast on board that
day. The dogs did their utmost to avail themselves of the opportunity;
they simply ate till their legs would no longer carry them, and we
could grant them this gratification with a good conscience. As to
ourselves, it may doubtless be taken for granted that we observed some
degree of moderation, but dinner was polished off very quickly. Seal
steak had many ardent adherents already, and it very soon gained
more. Seal soup, in which our excellent vegetables showed to advantage,
was perhaps even more favourably received.

For the first twenty-four hours after we entered the ice it was so
loose that we were able to hold our course and keep up our speed for
practically the whole time. On the two following days things did
not go quite so smoothly; at times the lines of floes were fairly
close, and occasionally we had to go round. We did not meet with any
considerable obstruction, however; there were always openings enough
to enable us to keep going. In the course of January 6 a change took
place, the floes became narrower and the leads broader. By 6 p.m. there
was open sea on every side as far as the eye could reach. The day’s
observations gave our position as lat. 70° S., long. 180° E.

Our passage through the pack had been a four days’ pleasure trip,
and I have a suspicion that several among us looked back with secret
regret to the cruise in smooth water through the ice-floes when the
swell of the open Ross Sea gave the Fram another chance of showing
her rolling capabilities.

But this last part of the voyage was also to be favoured by
fortune. These comparatively little-known waters had no terrors to
oppose to us. The weather continued surprisingly fine; it could not
have been better on a summer trip in the North Sea. Of icebergs there
was practically none; a few quite small floebergs were all we met
with in the four days we took to cross Ross Sea.

About midday on January 11 a marked brightening of the southern sky
announced that it was not far to the goal we had been struggling to
reach for five months. At 2.30 p.m. we came in sight of the Great
Ice Barrier. Slowly it rose up out of the sea until we were face
to face with it in all its imposing majesty. It is difficult with
the help of the pen to give any idea of the impression this mighty
wall of ice makes on the observer who is confronted with it for the
first time. It is altogether a thing which can hardly be described;
but one can understand very well that this wall of 100 feet in height
was regarded for a generation as an insuperable obstacle to further
southward progress.

We knew that the theory of the Barrier’s impregnability had long ago
been overthrown; there was an opening to the unknown realm beyond
it. This opening — the Bay of Whales — ought to lie, according
to the descriptions before us, about a hundred miles to the east of
the position in which we were. Our course was altered to true east,
and during a cruise of twenty-four hours along the Barrier we had
every opportunity of marvelling at this gigantic work of Nature. It
was not without a certain feeling of suspense that we looked forward
to our arrival at the harbour we were seeking What state should we
find it in? Would it prove impossible to land at all conveniently?

One point after another was passed, but still our anxious eyes were
met by nothing but the perpendicular wall. At last, on the afternoon
of January 12, the wall opened. This agreed with our expectations;
we were now in long. 164°, the selfsame point where our predecessors
had previously found access.

We had before us a great bay, so deep that it was impossible to see
the end of it from the crow’s-nest; but for the moment there was no
chance of getting in. The bay was full of great floes — sea-ice —
recently broken up. We therefore went on a little farther to the
eastward to await developments. Next morning we returned, and after
the lapse of a few hours the floes within the bay began to move. One
after another they came sailing out: the passage was soon free.

As we steered up the bay, we soon saw clearly that here we had every
chance of effecting a landing. All we had to do was to choose the
best place.


On the Barrier

We had thus arrived on January 14 — a day earlier than we had reckoned
— at this vast, mysterious, natural phenomenon — the Barrier. One
of the most difficult problems of the expedition was solved — that
of conveying our draught animals in sound condition to the field
of operations. We had taken 97 dogs on board at Christiansand; the
number had now increased to 116, and practically all of these would
be fit to serve in the final march to the South.

The next great problem that confronted us was to find a suitable place
on the Barrier for our station. My idea had been to get everything —
equipment and provisions — conveyed far enough into the Barrier to
secure us against the unpleasant possibility of drifting out into
the Pacific in case the Barrier should be inclined to calve. I had
therefore fixed upon ten miles as a suitable distance from the edge
of the Barrier. But even our first impression of the conditions
seemed to show that we should be spared a great part of this long
and troublesome transport. Along its outer edge the Barrier shows an
even, flat surface; but here, inside the bay, the conditions were
entirely different. Even from the deck of the Fram we were able to
observe great disturbances of the surface in every direction; huge
ridges with hollows between them extended on all sides. The greatest
elevation lay to the south in the form of a lofty, arched ridge, which
we took to be about 500 feet high on the horizon. But it might be
assumed that this ridge continued to rise beyond the range of vision.

Our original hypothesis that this bay was due to underlying land
seemed, therefore, to be immediately confirmed. It did not take long
to moor the vessel to the fixed ice-foot, which here extended for
about a mile and a quarter beyond the edge of the Barrier. Everything
had been got ready long before. Bjaaland had put our ski in order,
and every man had had his right pairs fitted. Ski-boots had long ago
been tried on, time after time, sometimes with one, sometimes with two
pairs of stockings. Of course it turned out that the ski-boots were on
the small side. To get a bootmaker to make roomy boots is, I believe,
an absolute impossibility. However, with two pairs of stockings we
could always get along in the neighbourhood of the ship. For longer
journeys we had canvas boots, as already mentioned.

Of the remainder of our outfit I need only mention the Alpine ropes,
which had also been ready for some time. They were about 30 yards long,
and were made of very fine rope, soft as silk, specially suited for
use in low temperatures.

After a hurried dinner four of us set out. This first excursion
was quite a solemn affair; so much depended on it. The weather was
of the very best, calm with brilliant sunshine, and a few light,
feathery clouds in the beautiful, pale blue sky. There was warmth in
the air which could be felt, even on this immense ice-field. Seals
were lying along the ice-foot as far as the eye could reach — great,
fat mountains of flesh; food enough to last us and the dogs for years.

The going was ideal; our ski glided easily and pleasantly through the
newly fallen loose snow. But none of us was exactly in training after
the long five months’ sea voyage, so that the pace was not great. After
half an hour’s march we were already at the first important point —
the connection between the sea-ice and the Barrier. This connection had
always haunted our brains. What would it be like? A high, perpendicular
face of ice, up which we should have to haul our things laboriously
with the help of tackles? Or a great and dangerous fissure, which
we should not be able to cross without going a long way round? We
naturally expected something of the sort. This mighty and terrible
monster would, of course, offer resistance in some form or other.

The mystic Barrier! All accounts without exception, from the days
of Ross to the present time, had spoken of this remarkable natural
formation with apprehensive awe. It was as though one could always
read between the lines the same sentence: “Hush, be quiet! the mystic
Barrier !”

One, two, three, and a little jump, and the Barrier was surmounted!

We looked at each other and smiled; probably the same thought was in
the minds of all of us. The monster had begun to lose something of
its mystery, the terror something of its force; the incomprehensible
was becoming quite easy to understand.

Without striking a blow we had entered into our kingdom. The Barrier
was at this spot about 20 feet high, and the junction between it
and the sea-ice was completely filled up with driven snow, so that
the ascent took the form of a little, gentle slope. This spot would
certainly offer us no resistance.

Hitherto we had made our advance without a rope. The sea-ice, we knew,
would offer no hidden difficulties; but what would be the condition
of things beyond the Barrier was another question. And as we all
thought it would be better to have the rope on before we fell into
a crevasse than afterwards, our further advance was made with a rope
between the first two.

We proceeded in an easterly direction up through a little valley formed
by “Mount Nelson” on one side, and “Mount Rцnniken” on the other. The
reader must not, however, imagine from these imposing names that we
were walking between any formidable mountain-ranges. Mounts Nelson
and Rцnniken were nothing but two old pressure ridges that had been
formed in those far-off days when the mighty mass of ice had pushed
on with awful force without meeting hindrance or resistance, until
at this spot it met a superior power that clove and splintered it,
and set a bound to its further advance. It must have been a frightful
collision, like the end of a world. But now it was over: peace — an
air of infinite peace lay over it all. Nelson and Rцnniken were only
two pensioned veterans. Regarded as pressure ridges they were huge,
raising their highest summits over 100 feet in the air. Here in the
valley the surface round Nelson was quite filled up, while Rцnniken
still showed a deep scar — a fissure or hollow. We approached it
cautiously. It was not easy to see how deep it was, and whether it
had an invisible connection with Nelson on the other side of the
valley. But this was not the case. On a closer examination this deep
cleft proved to have a solid, filled-up bottom. Between the ridges
the surface was perfectly flat, and offered an excellent site for
a dog-camp.

Captain Nilsen and I had worked out a kind of programme of the work to
be done, and in this it was decided that the dogs should be brought
on to the Barrier as quickly as possible, and there looked after
by two men. We chose this place for the purpose. The old pressure
ridges told the history of the spot plainly enough; we had no need
to fear any kind of disturbance here. The site had the additional
advantage that we could see the ship from it, and would always be in
communication with those on board.

From here the valley turned slightly to the south. After having
marked the spot where our first tent was to be set up, we continued
our investigations. The valley sloped gradually upwards, and reached
the ridge at a height of 100 feet. From this elevation we had an
excellent view over the valley we had been following, and all the other
surroundings. On the north the Barrier extended, level and straight,
apparently without interruption, and ended on the west in the steep
descent of Cape Man’s Head, which formed the eastern limit of the inner
part of the Bay of Whales, and afforded a snug little corner, where we
had found room for our ship. There lay the whole of the inner part of
the bay, bounded on all sides by ice, ice and nothing but ice-Barrier
as far as we could see, white and blue. This spot would no doubt show
a surprising play of colour later on; it promised well in this way.

The ridge we were standing on was not broad — about two hundred yards,
I think — and in many places it was swept quite bare by the wind,
showing the blue ice itself. We passed over it and made for the pass
of Thermopylae, which extended in a southerly direction from the
ridge and after a very slight descent was merged in a great plain,
surrounded by elevations on all sides — a basin, in fact. The bare
ridge we passed over to descend into the basin was a good deal broken
up; but the fissures were narrow, and almost entirely filled up again
with drift, so that they were not dangerous. The basin gave us the
impression of being sheltered and cosy, and, above all, it looked
safe and secure. This stretch of ice was — with the exception of a
few quite small hummocks of the shape of haycocks — perfectly flat
and free from crevasses.

We crossed it, and went up on the ridge that rose very gently on the
south. From the top of this all was flat and even as far as we could
see; but that was not saying much. For a little while we continued
along the ridge in an easterly direction without finding any place
that was specially suited for our purpose. Our thoughts returned to
the basin as the best sheltered place we had seen.

From the height we were now on, we could look down into the
south-eastern part of the Bay of Whales. In contrast to that part
of the ice-foot to which we had made fast, the inner bay seemed to
consist of ice that had been forced up by pressure. But we had to leave
a closer examination of this part till later. We all liked the basin,
and agreed to choose it as our future abode, And so we turned and went
back again. It did not take long to reach the plain in our own tracks.

On making a thorough examination of the surface and discussing the
various possibilities, we came to the conclusion that a site for the
hut was to be looked for on the little elevation that rose to the
east. It seemed that we should be more snug there than anywhere else,
and we were not mistaken. We soon made up our minds that we had chosen
the best place the Barrier had to offer. On the spot where the hut
was to stand we set up another ski-pole, and then went home.

The good news that we had already found a favourable place for the
hut naturally caused great satisfaction on all sides. Everyone had
been silently dreading the long and troublesome transport over the
Ice Barrier.

There was teeming life on the ice. Wherever we turned we saw great
herds of seals — Weddells and crab-eaters. The great sea-leopard,
which we had seen occasionally on the floes, was not to be found
here. During our whole stay in the Bay of Whales we did not see a
single specimen of it. Nor did we ever see the Ross seal. Penguins had
not shown themselves particularly often, only a few here and there;
but we appreciated them all the more. The few we saw were almost all
Adйlie penguins. While we were at work making the ship fast, a flock of
them suddenly shot up out of the water and on to the ice. They looked
about them in surprise for a moment: men and ships do not come their
way every day. But it seemed as if their astonishment soon gave way to
a desire to see what was happening. They positively sat and studied
all our movements. Only now and then they grunted a little and took
a turn over the ice. What specially interested them was evidently
our work at digging holes in the snow for the grapnels. They flocked
about the men who were engaged in this, laid their heads on one side,
and looked as if they found it immensely interesting. They did not
appear to be the least afraid of us, and for the most part we left
them in peace. But some of them had to lose their lives; we wanted
them for our collection.

An exciting seal-hunt took place the same day. Three crab-eaters had
ventured to approach the ship, and were marked down to increase our
store of fresh meat. We picked two mighty hunters to secure the prey
for us; they approached with the greatest caution, though this was
altogether unnecessary, for the seals lay perfectly motionless. They
crept forward in Indian fashion, with their heads down and their
backs bent. This looks fine; I chuckle and laugh, but still with a
certain decorum. Then there is a report. Two of the sleeping seals
give a little spasm, and do not move again. It is otherwise with the
third. With snakelike movements it wriggles away through the loose snow
with surprising speed. It is no longer target practice, but hunting
real game, and the result is in keeping with it. Bang! bang! and
bang again. It is a good thing we have plenty of ammunition. One of
the hunters uses up all his cartridges and has to go back, but the
other sets off in pursuit of the game. Oh, how I laughed! Decorum
was no longer possible; I simply shook with laughter. Away they
went through the loose snow, the seal first and the hunter after. I
could see by the movements of the pursuer that he was furious. He
saw that he was in for something which he could not come out of with
dignity. The seal made off at such a pace that it filled the air with
snow. Although the snow was fairly deep and loose, the seal kept on
the surface. Not so the hunter: he sank over the knees at every step,
and in a short time was completely outdistanced. From time to time
he halted, aimed, and fired. He himself afterwards asserted that
every shot had hit. I had my doubts. In any case the seal seemed to
take no notice of them, for it went on with undiminished speed. At
last the mighty man gave up and turned back. “Beastly hard to kill,”
I heard him say, as he came on board. I suppressed a smile — did
not want to hurt the fellow’s feelings.

What an evening! The sun is high in the heavens in spite of the late
hour. Over all this mountainous land of ice, over the mighty Barrier
running south, there lies a bright, white, shining light, so intense
that it dazzles the eyes. But northward lies the night. Leaden grey
upon the sea, it passes into deep blue as the eye is raised, and pales
by degrees until it is swallowed up in the radiant gleam from the
Barrier. What lies behind the night — that smoke-black mass — we
know. That part we have explored, and have come off victorious. But
what does the dazzling day to the south conceal? Inviting and
attractive the fair one lies before us. Yes, we hear you calling,
and we shall come. You shall have your kiss, if we pay for it with
our lives.

The following day — Sunday — brought the same fine weather. Of
course, there could now be no thought of Sunday for us. Not one of
us would have cared to spend the day in idleness. We were now divided
into two parties: the sea party and the land party. The sea party —
ten men — took over the Fram, while on this day the land party took
up their abode on the Barrier for a year or two, or whatever it might
be. The sea party was composed of Nilsen, Gjertsen, Beck, Sundbeck,
Ludvig Hansen, Kristensen, Rцnne, Nцdtvedt, Kutschin, and Olsen. The
land party consisted of Prestrud, Johansen, Helmer Hanssen, Hassel,
Bjaaland, Stubberud, Lindstrцm, and myself. Lindstrцm was to stay
on board for a few days longer, as we still had to take most of our
meals on the ship. The plan was that one party, composed of six men,
should camp in a sixteen-man tent in the space between Rцnniken and
Nelson, while another party of two were to live in a tent up at the
but site and build the hut. The two last were, of course, our capable
carpenters, Bjaaland and Stubberud.

By eleven o’clock in the morning we were at last ready to start. We had
one sledge, eight dogs and provisions and equipment weighing altogether
660 pounds. It was my team that was to open the ball. The sea party
had all collected on deck to witness the first start. All was now
ready; after countless efforts on our part, or, if it is preferred,
after a thorough thrashing for every dog, we had at last got them in a
line before the sledge in Alaska harness. With a flourish and a crack
of the whip we set off. I glanced at the ship. Yes; as I thought —
all our comrades were standing in a row, admiring the fine start. I am
not quite sure that I did not hold my head rather high and look round
with a certain air of triumph. If I did so, it was foolish of me. I
ought to have waited; the defeat would have been easier to bear. For
defeat it was, and a signal one. The dogs had spent half a year in
lying about and eating and drinking, and had got the impression that
they would never have anything else to do. Not one of them appeared
to understand that a new era of toil had begun. After moving forward
a few yards, they all sat down, as though at a word of command,
and stared at each other. The most undisguised astonishment could be
read in their faces. When at last we had succeeded, with another dose
of the whip, in making them understand that we really asked them to
work, instead of doing as they were told they flew at each other in a
furious scrimmage. Heaven help me! what work we had with those eight
dogs that day! If it was going to be like this on the way to the Pole,
I calculated in the midst of the tumult that it would take exactly a
year to get there, without counting the return journey. During all this
confusion I stole another glance at the ship, but the sight that met me
made me quickly withdraw my eyes again. They were simply shrieking with
laughter, and loud shouts of the most infamous encouragement reached
us. “If you go on like that, you’ll get there by Christmas,” or,
“Well done! stick to it. Now you’re off.” We were stuck faster than
ever. Things looked desperate. At last, with the combined strength
of all the animals and men, we got the sledge to move again.

So our first sledge trip could not be called a triumph. We then set
up our first tent on the Barrier, between Mounts Nelson and Rцnniken
— a large, strong tent for sixteen men, with the sheet for the floor
sewed on. Round the tent wire ropes were stretched in a triangle, fifty
yards on each side. To these the dogs were to be tethered. The tent was
furnished with five sleeping-bags and a quantity of provisions. The
distance we had come was 1.2 geographical miles, or 2.2 kilometres,
measured by sledge-meter. After finishing this work, we went on up
to the site selected for the station. Here we set up the tent —
a similar tent to the other, for sixteen men — for the use of the
carpenters, and marked out the hut site. According to the lie of
the ground we elected to make the house face east and west, and not
north and south, as one might have been tempted to do, since it was
usually supposed that the most frequent and violent winds came from
the south. We chose rightly. The prevailing wind was from the east,
and thus caught our house on its most protected short wall. The door
faced west. When this work was done, we marked out the way from here
to the encampment below and thence to the vessel with dark flags
at every fifteen paces. In this way we should be able to drive with
certainty from one place to another without losing time if a storm
should set in. The distance from the hut site to the vessel was 2.2
geographical miles, or 4 kilometres. On Monday, January 16, work began
in earnest. About eighty dogs — six teams — drove up to the first
encampment with all the provisions and equipment that could be loaded
on the sledges, and twenty dogs — Stubberud’s and Bjaaland’s teams —
went with a full load up to the other camp. We had some work indeed,
those first days, to get the dogs to obey us. Time after time they
tried to take the command from their masters and steer their own
course. More than once it cost us a wet shirt to convince them that
we really were the masters. It was strenuous work, but it succeeded
in the end. Poor dogs! they got plenty of thrashing in those days. Our
hours were long; we seldom turned in before eleven at night, and were
up again at five. But it did not seem particularly hard; we were
all alike eager for the work to be finished as soon as possible,
so that the Fram might get away. The harbour arrangements were not
of the best. The quay she was moored to suddenly broke in pieces,
and all hands had to turn out to make her fast to a new quay. Perhaps
they had just got to sleep again when the same operation had to be
repeated; for the ice broke time after time, and kept the unfortunate
“sea-rovers” in constant activity. It is enervating work being always
at one’s post, and sleeping with one eye open. They had a hard time to
contend with, our ten comrades, and the calm way in which they took
everything was extraordinary. They were always in a good humour, and
always had a joke ready. It was the duty of the sea party to bring up
all the provisions and outfit for the wintering party from the hold,
and put them on the ice. Then the land party removed them. This work
proceeded very smoothly, and it was rare that one party had to wait
for the other. During the first few days of sledging all the members
of the land party became quite hoarse, some of them so badly that
they almost lost their voices. This came from the continual yelling
and shouting that we had to do at first to make the dogs go. But this
gave the sea party a welcome opportunity of finding us a nickname;
we were called “the chatterers.”

Apart from the unpleasantness of constantly changing the anchorage,
on account of the breaking up and drifting out of the ice, the
harbour must in other respects be regarded as very good. A little
swell might set in from time to time and cause some disagreeable
bumping, but never anything to embarrass the vessel. One very great
advantage was that the currents in this corner always set outward,
and thus kept off all icebergs. The sledging between the ship and
the Barrier was done by five men to begin with, as the carpenters
were engaged in building the house. One man had also to be told off
as tent guard, for we could not use more than half our teams — six
dogs — at a time. If we harnessed the full team of twelve, we only
had trouble and fights. The dogs which were thus left behind had to
be looked after, and a man was required for this duty. Another of
the duties of the tent guard was to cook the day’s food and keep the
tent tidy. It was a coveted position, and lots were cast for it. It
gave a little variety in the continual sledging.

On January 17 the carpenters began to dig the foundations of the
house. The effect of all we had heard about the Antarctic storms was
that we decided to take every possible precaution to make the house
stand on an even keel. The carpenters therefore began by digging
a foundation 4 feet down into the Barrier. This was not easy work;
2 feet below the surface they came upon hard, smooth ice, and had to
use pickaxes. The same day a stiff easterly breeze sprang up, whirling
the snow high into the air, and filling up the foundations as fast
as the men dug them. But it would take more than that to stop those
fellows in their work. They built a wind-screen of planks, and did
it so well that they were able to work all day, unhindered by drifts,
until, when evening came, they had the whole foundation dug out. There
is no difficulty in doing good work when one has such people to work
for one. The stormy weather interfered somewhat with our sledging,
and as we found our Alaska harness unsuitable to the conditions,
we went on board and began the preparation of Greenland harness for
our dogs. All hands worked at it. Our excellent sailmaker, Rцnne,
sewed forty-six sets of harness in the course of the month. The rest
of us spliced the ropes and made the necessary tackles, while others
spliced wire-rope shafts to our sledges. When evening came we had
an entirely new set of tackle for all our sledges and dogs. This was
very successful, and in a few days the whole was working smoothly.

We had now divided ourselves between the two tents, so that five men
slept in the lower tent, while the two carpenters and I inhabited the
upper one. That evening a rather amusing thing happened to us. We were
just turning in when suddenly we heard a penguin’s cry immediately
outside the tent. We were out in a moment. There, a few yards from the
door, sat a big Emperor penguin, making bow after bow. It gave exactly
the impression of having come up simply to pay us its respects. We
were sorry to repay its attention so poorly, but such is the way of
the world. With a final bow it ended its days in the frying-pan.

On January 18 we began bringing up the materials for the hut,
and as soon as they arrived the builders began to put them up. It
is no exaggeration to say that everything went like a well-oiled
machine. One sledge after another drove up to the site and discharged
its load. The dogs worked splendidly, and their drivers no less,
and as fast as the materials arrived our future home rose into
the air. All the parts had been marked before leaving Norway,
and were now discharged from the ship in the order in which they
were wanted. Besides which, Stubberud himself had built the house,
so that he knew every peg of it. It is with gladness and pride that
I look back upon those days. With gladness, because no discord was
ever heard in the course of this fairly severe labour; with pride,
because I was at the head of such a body of men. For men they were,
in the true sense of the word. Everyone knew his duty, and did it.

During the night the wind dropped and the morning brought the
finest weather, calm and clear. It was a pleasure to work on days
like this. Both men and dogs were in the best of spirits. On these
journeys between the ship and the station we were constantly hunting
seals, but we only took those that came in our way. We never had to
go far to find fresh meat. We used to come suddenly upon a herd of
them; they were then shot, flayed, and loaded on the sledges with the
provisions and building materials. The dogs feasted in those days —
they had as much warm flesh as they wanted.

On January 20 we had taken up all the building materials, and could
then turn our attention to provisions and stores. The work went
merrily, backwards and forwards, and the journey to the Fram in the
morning with empty sledges was specially enjoyable. The track was
now well worn and hard, and resembled a good Norwegian country road
more than anything else. The going was splendid. On coming out of the
tent at six o’clock in the morning one was instantly greeted with
joy by one’s own twelve dogs. They barked and howled in emulation,
tugged and jerked at their chains to get to their master, and jumped
and danced about with joy. Then one would first go down the line and
say “Good-morning” to each of them in turn, patting them and saying a
few words. Splendid beasts they were. The one who was taken notice of
showed every sign of happiness. The most petted of our domestic dogs
could not have shown greater devotion than these tamed wolves. All the
time the others were yelling and pulling at their chains to get at the
one who was being petted, for they are jealous in the extreme. When
they had all received their share of attention the harness was brought
out, and then the jubilation broke out afresh. Strange as it may
seem, I can assert that these animals love their harness. Although
they must know that it means hard work, they all show signs of the
greatest rapture at the sight of it. I must hasten to add, however,
that this only happens at home. Long and fatiguing sledge journeys
show a very different state of things. When it came to harnessing,
the first trouble of the day began. It was impossible to get them to
stand still. The full meal of the previous evening, followed by the
night’s rest, had given them such a superabundance of energy and joy
of life that nothing could make them stand still. They had to have a
taste of the whip, and yet it was a pity to start that. After having
securely anchored the sledge, one was ready at last with one’s team
of six dogs harnessed. Now it might be thought that all was plain
sailing and that one had only to cast off one’s moorings and be taken
straight down to the ship. But that was far from being the case. Round
about the camp a number of objects had collected in a short time,
such as packing-cases, building materials, empty sledges, etc., and to
steer clear of these was the great problem of the morning. The dogs’
greatest interest was, of course, concentrated upon these objects,
and one had to be extremely lucky to avoid a spill.

Let us follow one of these morning drives. The men are all ready
and have their dogs well harnessed. One, two, three, and we let them
all go at once. We are off like the wind, and before one has time to
swing the whip one finds oneself in the middle of a heap of building
materials. The dogs have achieved the desire of their lives — to
be able to make a thorough investigation of these materials in the
way that is so characteristic of the dog and so incomprehensible
to us. While this process is going on with the greatest enjoyment,
the driver has got clear of the sledge and begins to distentangle
the traces, which have wound themselves round planks and posts and
whatever else maybe lying handy. He is far from having achieved the
desire of his life — to judge from the expressions he uses. At last
he is clear again. He looks round first and finds he is not the only
one who has met with difficulties in the way. Over there among the
cases he sees a performance going on which makes his heart leap with
joy. One of the old hands has come to grief, and in so decisive a
fashion that it will take him a long time to get clear again. With a
triumphant smile he throws himself on the sledge and drives off. So
long as he is on the Barrier as a rule everything goes well; there
is nothing here to distract the dogs. It is otherwise when he comes
down to the sea-ice. Here seals lie scattered about in groups basking
in the sunshine, and it may easily happen that his course will be
rather crooked. If a team of fresh dogs have made up their minds
to turn aside in the direction of a herd of seals, it takes a very
experienced driver to get them in the right way again. Personally,
on such occasions, I used the only remedy I could see — namely,
capsizing the sledge. In loose snow with the sledge upset they soon
pulled up. Then, if one was wise, one put them on the right course
again quietly and calmly, hoisted the sledge on to an even keel,
and went on. But one is not always wise, unfortunately. The desire to
be revenged on the disobedient rascals gets the upper hand, and one
begins to deal out punishment. But this is not so easy as it seems. So
long as you are sitting on the capsized sledge it makes a good anchor,
but now — without a load — it is no use, and the dogs know that. So
while you are thrashing one the others start off, and the result is
not always flattering to the driver. If he is lucky he gets on to the
capsized sledge again, but we have seen dogs and sledges arrive without
drivers. All this trouble in the early morning sets the blood in active
circulation, and one arrives at the ship drenched with perspiration,
in spite of a temperature of -5°F. But it sometimes happens that there
is no interruption, and then the drive is soon over. The dogs want
no encouragement; they are willing enough. The mile and a quarter
from the lower camp to the Fram is then covered in a few minutes.

When we came out of the tent on the morning of January 21 we were
greatly surprised. We thought we must be mistaken, rubbed our eyes,
opened them wider; but no, it was no good. The Fram was no longer
to be seen. It had been blowing pretty strongly during the night,
with snow-squalls. Presumably the weather had forced them to put
out. We could also hear the roar of the sea dashing against the
Barrier. Meanwhile we lost no time. The day before Captain Nilsen and
Kristensen had shot forty seals, and of these we had brought in half
the same day. We now began to fetch in the rest. During the forenoon,
while we were flaying and shooting seals, we heard the old, well-known
sound — put, put, put — of the Fram’s motor, and presently the
crow’s-nest appeared above the Barrier. But she did not get into her
old berth before evening. A heavy swell had forced her to go outside.

Meanwhile the carpenters were busily constructing the hut. By January
21 the roof was on, and the rest of the work could thus be done under
cover. This was a great comfort to the men; at that time their job
was undoubtedly the worst of any. Bitterly cold it was for them,
but I never heard them talk about it. When I came up to the tent
after the day’s work, one of them was busy cooking. The meal always
consisted of pancakes and pitch-black, strong coffee. How good it
tasted! A rivalry soon arose between the two cook-carpenters as to
which of them could make the best pancakes. I think they were both
clever at it. In the morning we had pancakes again — crisp, hot,
delicate pancakes, with the most glorious coffee — before I was even
out of my sleeping-bag. That is what the carpenters had to offer me at
five o’clock in the morning. No wonder I enjoyed their society. Nor
did the men in the lower camp suffer any privation. Wisting showed
himself to be possessed of eminent talents as cook for the day. His
special dish was penguins and skua gulls in cream sauce. It was served
under the name of ptarmigan, of which it really reminded one.

That Sunday we all went on board — with the exception of the necessary
tent guards for both camps — and enjoyed life. We had worked hard
enough that week.

On Monday, January 23, we began to carry up the provisions. In order
to save time, we had decided not to bring the provisions right up to
the hut, but to store them for the time being on an elevation that
lay on the other side, to the south of Mount Nelson. This spot was
not more than 600 yards from the hut, but as the surface was rather
rough here, we should save a good deal in the long-run. Afterwards
when the Fram had sailed, we could take them the rest of the way. As
it turned out, we never had time for this, so that our main store
remained here. Sledging up to this point offered some difficulties at
first. The dogs, who were accustomed to take the road to the lower camp
— between Nelson and Rцnniken — could not understand why they might
not do the same now. The journey with empty sledges down to the ship
was often particularly troublesome. From this point the dogs could
hear their companions on the other side of Nelson in the lower camp,
and then it happened more than once that the dogs took command. If they
once got in the humour for playing tricks of that sort, it was by no
means easy to get them under control. We all of us had this experience
without exception. Not one of us escaped this little extra turn. As
the provisions came up each driver took them off his sledge, and laid
the cases in the order in which they should lie. We began by placing
each sort by itself in small groups over the slope. This plan had the
advantage that everything would be easy to find. The load was usually
660 pounds, or 6 cases to each sledge. We had about 900 cases to bring
up, and reckoned that we should have them all in place in the course
of a week. Everything went remarkably well according to our reckoning.

By noon on Saturday, January 28, the hut was ready, and all the 900
cases were in place. The depot of provisions had quite an imposing
appearance. Great rows of cases stood in the snow, all with their
numbers outward, so that we could find what we wanted at once. And
there was the house, all finished, exactly as it had stood in its
native place on Bundefjord. But it would be difficult to imagine more
different surroundings: there, green pinewoods and splashing water;
here, ice, nothing but ice. But both scenes were beautiful; I stood
thinking which I preferred. My thoughts travelled far — thousands
of miles in a second. It was the forest that gained the day.

As I have already mentioned, we had everything with us for fastening
the but down to the Barrier, but the calm weather we had had all the
time led us to suppose that the conditions would not be so bad as we
had expected. We were therefore satisfied with the foundation dug in
the Barrier. The outside of the but was tarred, and the roof covered
with tarred paper, so that it was very visible against the white
surroundings. That afternoon we broke up both camps, and moved into
our home, “Framheim.” What a snug, cosy, and cleanly impression it
gave us when we entered the door! Bright, new linoleum everywhere —
in the kitchen as well as in our living-room. We had good reason to be
happy. Another important point had been got over, and in much shorter
time than I had ever hoped. Our path to the goal was opening up; we
began to have a glimpse of the castle in the distance. The Beauty is
still sleeping, but the kiss is coming, the kiss that shall wake her!

It was a happy party that assembled in the hut the first evening,
and drank to the future to the music of the gramophone. All the
full-grown dogs were now brought up here, and were fastened to
wire ropes stretched in a square, 50 yards on each side. It may be
believed that they gave us some music. Collected as they were, they
performed under the leadership of some great singer or other daily,
and, what was worse, nightly concerts. Strange beasts! what can they
have meant by this howling? One began, then two, then a few more, and,
finally, the whole hundred. As a rule, during a concert like this they
sit well down, stretch their heads as high in the air as they can,
and howl to their hearts’ content. During this act they seem very
preoccupied, and are not easily disturbed. But the strangest thing
is the way the concert comes to an end. It stops suddenly along the
whole line — no stragglers, no “one cheer more.” What is it that
imposes this simultaneous stop? I have observed and studied it time
after time without result. One would think it was a song that had been
learnt. Do these animals possess a power of communicating with each
other? The question is extraordinarily interesting. No one among us,
who has had long acquaintance with Eskimo dogs, doubts that they have
this power. I learned at last to understand their different sounds
so well that I could tell by their voices what was going on without
seeing them. Fighting, play, love-making, etc., each had its special
sound. If they wanted to express their devotion and affection for
their master, they would do it in a quite different way. If one of
them was doing something wrong — something they knew they were not
allowed to do, such as breaking into a meat-store, for example —
the others, who could not get in, ran out and gave vent to a sound
quite different from those I have mentioned. I believe most of us
learned to distinguish these different sounds. There can hardly be
a more interesting animal to observe, or one that offers greater
variety of study, than the Eskimo dog. From his ancestor the wolf
he has inherited the instinct of self-preservation — the right of
the stronger — in a far higher degree than our domestic dog. The
struggle for life has brought him to early maturity, and given him
such qualities as frugality and endurance in an altogether surprising
degree. His intelligence is sharp, clear, and well developed for the
work he is born to, and the conditions in which he is brought up. We
must not call the Eskimo dog slow to learn because he cannot sit up
and take sugar when he is told; these are things so widely separated
from the serious business of his life that he will never be able to
understand them, or only with great difficulty. Among themselves the
right of the stronger is the only law. The strongest rules, and does
as he pleases undisputedly; everything belongs to him. The weaker ones
get the crumbs. Friendship easily springs up between these animals —
always combined with respect and fear of the stronger. The weaker,
with his instinct of self-preservation, seeks the protection of the
stronger. The stronger accepts the position of protector, and thereby
secures a trusty helper, always with the thought of one stronger than
himself. The instinct of self-preservation is to be found everywhere,
and it is so, too, with their relations with man. The dog has learnt to
value man as his benefactor, from whom he receives everything necessary
for his support. Affection and devotion seem also to have their part in
these relations, but no doubt on a closer examination the instinct of
self-preservation is at the root of all. As a consequence of this, his
respect for his master is far greater than in our domestic dog, with
whom respect only exists as a consequence of the fear of a beating. I
could without hesitation take the food out of the mouth of any one
of my twelve dogs; not one of them would attempt to bite me. And
why? Because their respect, as a consequence of the fear of getting
nothing next time, was predominant. With my dogs at home I certainly
should not try the same thing. They would at once defend their food,
and, if necessary, they would not shrink from using their teeth; and
this in spite of the fact that these dogs have to all appearance the
same respect as the others. What, then, is the reason? It is that
this respect is not based on a serious foundation — the instinct
of self-preservation — but simply on the fear of a hiding. A case
like this proves that the foundation is too weak; the desire of food
overcomes the fear of the stick, and the result is a snap.

A few days later the last member of the wintering party — Adolf Henrik
Lindstrцm — joined us, and with his arrival our arrangements might be
regarded as complete. He had stayed on board hitherto, attending to
the cooking there, but now he was no longer necessary. His art would
be more appreciated among the “chatterers.” The youngest member of
the expedition — the cook Karinius Olsen — took over from that day
the whole of the cooking on the Fram, and performed this work in an
extremely conscientious and capable way until the ship reached Hobart
in March, 1912, when he again had assistance. This was well done for
a lad of twenty. I wish we had many like him.

With Lindstrцm, then, the kitchen and the daily bread were in
order. The smoke rose gaily from the shining black chimney, and
proclaimed that now the Barrier was really inhabited. How cosy it was,
when we came sledging up after the day’s work, to see that smoke rising
into the air. It is a little thing really, but nevertheless it means
so much. With Lindstrцm came not only food, but light and air — both
of them his specialities. The Lux lamp was the first thing he rigged
up, giving us a light that contributed much to the feeling of comfort
and well-being through the long winter. He also provided us with air,
but in this he had Stubberud as a partner. These two together managed
to give us the finest, purest Barrier air in our room during the whole
stay. It is true that this was not done without hard work, but they did
not mind that. The ventilation was capricious, and liable to fail now
and then. This usually happened when there was a dead calm. Many were
the ingenious devices employed by the firm to set the business going
again. Generally a Primus stove was used under the exhaust pipe, and
ice applied to the supply pipe. While one of them lay on his stomach
with the Primus under the exhaust, drawing the air up that way,
the other ran up to the roof and dropped big lumps of snow down the
supply to get the air in that way. In this fashion they could keep it
going by the hour together without giving up. It finally ended in the
ventilation becoming active again without visible cause. There is no
doubt that the system of ventilation in a winter-station like ours
is of great importance, both to health and comfort. I have read of
expeditions, the members of which were constantly suffering from cold
and damp and resulting sickness. This is nothing but a consequence
of bad ventilation. If the supply of fresh air is sufficient, the
fuel will be turned to better account, and the production of warmth
will, of course, be greater. If the supply of air is insufficient,
a great part of the fuel will be lost in an unconsumed state, and
cold and damp will be the result. There must, of course, be a means
of regulating the ventilation in accordance with requirements. We
used only the Lux lamp in our hut, besides the stove in the kitchen,
and with this we kept our room so warm that those of us in the upper
berths were constantly complaining of the warmth.

Originally there were places for ten bunks in the room, but as
there were only nine of us, one of the bunks was removed and the
space used for our chronometer locker. This contained three ordinary
ship’s chronometers. We had, in addition, six chronometer watches,
which we wore continually, and which were compared throughout the
whole winter. The meteorological instruments found a place in the
kitchen — the only place we had for them. Lindstrцm undertook the
position of sub-director of the Framheim meteorological station and
instrument-maker to the expedition. Under the roof were stowed all the
things that would not stand severe frost, such as medicines, syrup,
jam, cream, pickles, and sauces, besides all our sledge-boxes. A
place was also made for the library under the roof.

The week beginning on Monday, January 30, was spent in bringing
up coal, wood, oil, and our whole supply of dried fish. The
temperature this summer varied between +5° and -13°F. — a grand
summer temperature. We also shot many seals daily, and we already
had a great pile of about a hundred of them lying just outside the
door of the hut. One evening as we were sitting at supper Lindstrцm
came in to tell us that we need not go down any more to the sea-ice
to shoot them, as they were coming up to us. We went out and found
he was right. Not far away, and making straight for the hut, came
a crab-eater, shining like silver in the sun. He came right up,
was photographed, and — shot.

One day I had a rather curious experience. My best dog, Lassesen, had
his left hind-paw frozen quite white. It happened while we were all out
sledging. Lassesen was a lover of freedom, and had seen his chance of
getting loose when unobserved. He used his freedom, like most of these
dogs, for fighting. They love fighting, and cannot resist it. He had
picked a quarrel with Odin and Thor, and started a battle with them. In
the course of the fight the chains that fastened these two had got
wound round Lassesen’s leg, and twisted so that the circulation was
stopped. How long he had been standing so I do not know. But when I
came, I saw at once that the dog was in the wrong place. On a closer
examination I discovered the frost-bite. I then spent half an hour in
restoring the circulation. I succeeded in doing this by holding the
paw continuously in my warm hand. At first, while there was no feeling
in the limb, it went well; but when the blood began to flow back,
of course it was painful, and Lassesen became impatient. He whined,
and motioned with his head towards the affected place, as though he
wanted to tell me that he found the operation unpleasant. He made no
attempt to snap. The paw swelled a good deal after this treatment,
but next day Lassesen was as well as ever, though a little lame in
that leg.

The entries in my diary at this time are all in telegraphic style,
no doubt owing to the amount of work. Thus an entry in February ends
with the following words: “An Emperor penguin just come on a visit —
soup-kettle.” He did not get a very long epitaph.

During this week we relieved the sea party of the last of the dogs
— about twenty puppies. There was rejoicing on board when the last
of them left the deck, and, indeed, one could not be surprised. With
the thermometer about -5°F., as it had been lately, it was impossible
to keep the deck clean, as everything froze at once. After they had
all been brought on to the ice, the crew went to work with salt and
water, and in a short time we recognized the Fram again. The puppies
were put into boxes and driven up. We had put up a sixteen-man tent
to receive them. From the very first moment they declined to stay in
it, and there was nothing to be done but to let them out. All these
puppies passed a great part of the winter in the open air. So long
as the seals’ carcasses were lying on the slope, they stayed there;
afterwards they found another place. But the tent, despised by the
youngsters, came in useful after all. Any bitch that was going to
have a litter was put in there, and the tent went by the name of
“the maternity hospital.” Then one tent after another was put up, and
Framheim looked quite an important place. Eight of the sixteen-man
tents were set up for our eight teams, two for dried fish, one for
fresh meat, one for cases of provisions, and one for coal and wood —
fourteen altogether. They were arranged according to a plan drawn up
beforehand, and when they were all up they had quite the appearance
of a camp.

At this time our dog-harness underwent important alterations, as one
of the members of the expedition had the happy idea of combining
the Alaska and the Greenland harness. The result satisfied all
requirements; in future we always used this construction, and we all
agreed that it was much superior to any other harness. The dogs also
seemed to be more comfortable in it. That they worked better and more
easily is certain, and raw places, so common with Greenland harness,
were absolutely unknown.

February 4 was an eventful day. As usual, we all came down to the
Fram, driving our empty sledges, at half-past six in the morning. When
the first man got to the top of the ridge, he began to wave his arms
about and gesticulate like a madman. I understood, of course, that
he saw something, but what? The next man gesticulated even worse,
and tried to shout to me. But it was no use; I could not make anything
of it. Then it was my turn to go over the ridge, and, as was natural,
I began to feel rather curious. I had only a few yards more to go —
and then it was explained. Along the edge of the ice, just to the
south of the Fram, a large barque lay moored. We had talked of the
possibility of meeting the Terra Nova — Captain Scott’s vessel —
when she was on her way to King Edward VII. Land; but it was a great
surprise all the same. Now it was my turn to wave my arms, and I am
sure I did it no worse than the two first. And the same thing was
repeated with all of us, as soon as each one reached the top of the
ridge. What the last man did I have never been able to find out for
certain — but no doubt he waved his arms too. If a stranger had stood
and watched us that morning on the ridge, he would surely have taken
us for a lot of incurable lunatics. The way seemed long that day,
but at last we got there and heard the full explanation. The Terra
Nova had come in at midnight. Our watchman had just gone below for
a cup of coffee — there was no harm in that — and when he came up
again, there was another ship lying off the foot of the Barrier. He
rubbed his eyes, pinched his leg, and tried other means of convincing
himself that he was asleep, but it was no good. The pinch especially,
he told us afterwards, was horribly painful, and all this led him to
the conclusion that there really was a second vessel there.

Lieutenant Campbell, the leader of the eastern party, which was
to explore King Edward VII. Land, came on board first, and paid
Nilsen a visit. He brought the news that they had not been able to
reach land, and were now on their way back to McMurdo Sound. From
thence it was their intention to go to Cape North and explore the
land there. Immediately after my arrival Lieutenant Campbell came on
board again and gave me the news himself.

We then loaded our sledges and drove home. At nine o’clock we had the
great pleasure of receiving Lieutenant Pennell, the commander of the
Terra Nova, Lieutenant Campbell, and the surgeon of the expedition, as
the first guests in our new home. We spent a couple of very agreeable
hours together. Later in the day three of us paid a visit to the Terra
Nova, and stayed on board to lunch. Our hosts were extremely kind,
and offered to take our mail to New Zealand. If I had had time,
I should have been glad to avail myself of this friendly offer,
but every hour was precious. It was no use to think of writing now.

At two o’clock in the afternoon the Terra Nova cast off again,
and left the Bay of Whales. We made a strange discovery after this
visit. Nearly all of us had caught cold. It did not last long — only
a few hours — and then it was over. The form it took was sneezing
and cold in the head.

The next day — Sunday, February 5 — the “sea rovers,” as we
called the Fram party, were our guests. We had to have them in
two detachments, as they could not all leave the ship at the same
time. Four came to dinner and six to supper. We had not much to offer,
but we invited them, not so much for the sake of the entertainment
as to show them our new home and wish them a successful voyage.


Depot Journeys

There was now too little work for eight of us in bringing up stores
from the Fram, and it became evident that some of us might be more
usefully employed elsewhere. It was therefore decided that four
men should bring ashore the little that remained, while the other
four went southward to lat. 80° S., partly to explore the immediate
neighbourhood, and partly to begin the transport of provisions to the
south. This arrangement gave us all enough to do. The four who were
to continue the work at the station — Wisting, Hassel, Stubberud,
and Bjaaland — now had as much as their sledges could carry. The
rest of us were busy getting ready. For that matter, everything was
prepared in advance, but as yet we had had no experience of a long
journey. That was what we were going to get now.

Our departure was fixed for Friday, February 10. On the 9th I went on
board to say good-bye, as presumably the Fram would have sailed when
we came back. I had so much to thank all these plucky fellows for. I
knew it was hard for all of them — almost without exception — to
have to leave us now, at the most interesting time, and go out to sea
to battle for months with cold and darkness, ice and storms, and then
have the same voyage over again the next year when they came to fetch
us. It was certainly a hard task, but none of them complained. They
had all promised to do their best to promote our common object,
and therefore all went about their duty without grumbling. I left
written orders with the commander of the Fram, Captain Nilsen. The
substance of these orders may be given in a few words: Carry out
our plan in the way you may think best. I knew the man I was giving
orders to. A more capable and honourable second in command I could
never have had. I knew that the Fram was safe in his hands.

Lieutenant Prestrud and I made a trip to the south to find a suitable
place for ascending the Barrier on the other side of the bay. The
sea-ice was fairly even for this distance; only a few cracks here
and there. Farther up the bay there were, curiously enough, long
rows of old hummocks. What could this mean? This part was really
quite protected from the sea, so that these formations could not
be attributed to its action. We hoped to have an opportunity of
investigating the conditions more closely later on; there was no time
for it now. The shortest and most direct way to the south was the one
we were on now. The bay was not wide here. The distance from Framheim
to this part of the Barrier was about three miles. The ascent of the
Barrier was not difficult; with the exception of a few fissures it
was quite easy. It did not take long to get up, except perhaps in
the steepest part. The height was 60 feet. It was quite exciting to
go up; what should we see at the top? We had never yet had a real
uninterrupted view over the Barrier to the south; this was the first
time. As it happened, we were not surprised at what we saw when we got
up — an endless plain, that was lost in the horizon on the extreme
south. Our course, we could see, would take us just along the side of
the ridge before mentioned — a capital mark for later journeys. The
going was excellent; a thin layer of conveniently loose snow was spread
over a hard under-surface, and made it very suitable for skiing. The
lie of the ground told us at once that we had the right pattern of ski
— the kind for level ground, long and narrow. We had found what we
wanted — an ascent for our southern journeys and an open road. This
spot was afterwards marked with a flag, and went by the name of “the
starting-place.” On the way back, as on the way out, we passed large
herds of seals, lying asleep. They did not take the least notice
of us. If we went up and woke them, they just raised their heads a
little, looked at us for a moment, and then rolled over on the other
side and went to sleep again. It was very evident that these animals
here on the ice have no enemies. They would certainly have set a watch,
as their brothers in the North do, if they had had anything to fear.

On this day we used skin clothing for the first time — reindeer-skin
clothes of Eskimo cut — but they proved to be too warm. We had the
same experience later. In low temperatures these reindeer clothes are
beyond comparison the best, but here in the South we did not as a rule
have low temperatures on our sledge journeys. On the few occasions
when we experienced any cold worth talking about, we were always
in skins. When we returned in the evening after our reconnoitring,
we had no need of a Turkish bath.

On February 10, at 9.30 a.m., the first expedition left for the
South. We were four men, with three sledges and eighteen dogs, six
for each sledge. The load amounted to about 550 pounds of provisions
per sledge, besides the provisions and outfit for the journey. We
could not tell, even approximately, how long the journey would take,
as everything was unknown. The chief thing we took on our sledges
was dogs’ pemmican for the depot, 350 pounds per sledge. We also
took a quantity of seal meat cut into steaks, blubber, dried fish,
chocolate, margarine, and biscuits. We had ten long bamboo poles,
with black flags, to mark the way. The rest of our outfit consisted
of two three-man tents, four one-man sleeping-bags, and the necessary
cooking utensils.

The dogs were very willing, and we left Framheim at full gallop. Along
the Barrier we went well. Going down to the sea-ice we had to pass
through a number of big hummocks — a fairly rough surface. Nor
was this without consequences; first one sledge, then another, swung
round. But no harm was done; we got our gear tested, and that is always
an advantage. We also had to pass rather near several large groups of
seals, and the temptation was too great. Away went the dogs to one side
in full gallop towards the seals. But this time the load was heavy,
and they were soon tired of the extra work. In the bay we were in sight
of the Fram. The ice had now given way entirely, so that she lay close
to the Barrier itself. Our four comrades, who were to stay at home,
accompanied us. In the first place, they wanted to see us on our way,
and in the second, they would be able to lend us a hand in getting
up the Barrier, for we were rather apprehensive that it would cost
us a wet shirt. Finally, they were to hunt seals. There was plenty
of opportunity here; where-ever one looked there were seals — fat
heavy beasts.

I had put the home party under Wisting’s command, and given them
enough work to do. They were to bring up the remainder of the stores
from the ship, and to build a large, roomy pent-house against the
western wall of the hut, so that we should not have to go directly
on to the ice from the kitchen. We also intended to use this as a
carpenter’s workshop. But they were not to forget the seal-hunting,
early and late. It was important to us to get seals enough to enable
us all, men and dogs, to live in plenty. And there were enough to
be had. If we ran short of fresh meat in the course of the winter,
it would be entirely our own fault.

It was a good thing we had help for the climb. Short as it was,
it caused us a good deal of trouble; but we had dogs enough, and by
harnessing a sufficient number we got the sledges up. I should like
to know what they thought on board. They could see we were already
hard put to it to get up here. What would it be like when we had to
get on to the plateau? I do not know whether they thought of the old
saying: Practice makes perfect.

We halted at the starting-place, where we were to separate from
our comrades. None of us was particularly sentimental. An honest
shake of the hand, and so “Good-bye.” The order of our march was as
follows: Prestrud first on ski, to show the direction and encourage
the dogs. We always went better with someone going in front. Next
came Helmer Hanssen. He kept this place on all our journeys — the
leading sledge. I knew him well from our previous work together,
and regarded him as the most efficient dog-driver I had met. He
carried the standard compass on his sledge and checked Prestrud’s
direction. After him came Johansen, also with a compass. Lastly,
I came, with sledge-meter and compass. I preferred to take the last
sledge because it enabled me to see what was happening. However careful
one may be, it is impossible to avoid dropping things from sledges
in making a journey. If the last man keeps a lookout for such things,
great inconvenience may often be avoided. I could mention many rather
important things that were dropped in the course of our journeys and
picked up again by the last man. The hardest work, of course, falls on
the first man. He has to open up the road and drive his dogs forward,
while we others have only to follow. All honour, then, to the man who
performed this task from the first day to the last — Helmer Hanssen.

The position of the “forerunner” is not a very enviable one either. Of
course he escapes all bother with dogs, but it is confoundedly tedious
to walk there alone, staring at nothing. His only diversion is a
shout from the leading sledge: “A little to the right,” “A little
to the left.” It is not so much these simple words that divert him
as the tone in which they are called. Now and then the cry comes
in a way that makes him feel he is acquitting himself well. But
sometimes it sends a cold shiver down his back; the speaker might
just as well have added the word “Duffer!” — there is no mistaking
his tone. It is no easy matter to go straight on a surface without
landmarks. Imagine an immense plain that you have to cross in thick
fog; it is dead calm, and the snow lies evenly, without drifts. What
would you do? An Eskimo can manage it, but none of us. We should turn
to the right or to the left, and give the leading dog-driver with the
standard compass endless trouble. It is strange how this affects the
mind. Although the man with the compass knows quite well that the man
in front cannot do any better, and although he knows that he could not
do better himself, he nevertheless gets irritated in time and works
himself into the belief that the unsuspecting, perfectly innocent
leader only takes these turns to annoy him; and so, as I have said,
the words “A little to the left” imply the unspoken addition —
perfectly understood on both sides — “Duffer!” I have personal
experience of both duties. With the dog-driver time passes far more
quickly. He has his dogs to look after, and has to see that all are
working and none shirking. Many other points about a team claim his
attention, and he must always keep an eye on the sledge itself. If
he does not do this, some slight unevenness may throw the runners in
the air before he knows where he is. And to right a capsized sledge,
weighing about eight hundredweight, is no fun. So, instead of running
this risk, he gives his whole attention to what is before him.

From the starting-place the Barrier rises very slightly, until at a
cross-ridge it passes into the perfect level. Here on the ridge we
halt once more. Our comrades have disappeared and gone to their work,
but in the distance the Fram lies, framed in shining, blue-white
ice. We are but human; uncertainty always limits our prospect. Shall
we meet again? And if so, under what conditions? Much lay between
that moment and the next time we should see her. The mighty ocean
on one side, and the unknown region of ice on the other; so many
things might happen. Her flag floats out, waves us a last adieu,
and disappears. We are on our way to the South.

This first inland trip on the Barrier was undeniably exciting. The
ground was absolutely unknown, and our outfit untried. What kind
of country should we have to deal with? Would it continue in this
boundless plain without hindrance of any kind? Or would Nature present
insurmountable difficulties? Were we right in supposing that dogs were
the best means of transport in these regions, or should we have done
better to take reindeer, ponies, motor-cars, aeroplanes, or anything
else? We went forward at a rattling pace; the going was perfect. The
dogs’ feet trod on a thin layer of loose snow, just enough to give
them a secure hold.

The weather conditions were not quite what we should have wished
in an unknown country. It is true that it was calm and mild, and
altogether pleasant for travelling, but the light was not good. A
grey haze, the most unpleasant kind of light after fog, lay upon the
landscape, making the Barrier and the sky merge into one. There was
no horizon to be seen. This grey haze, presumably a younger sister
of fog, is extremely disagreeable. One can never be certain of one’s
surroundings. There are no shadows; everything looks the same. In a
light like this it is a bad thing to be the forerunner; he does not
see the inequalities of the ground until too late — until he is right
on them. This often ends in a fall, or in desperate efforts to keep
on his feet. It is better for the drivers, they can steady themselves
with a hand on the sledge. But they also have to be on the lookout for
inequalities, and see that the sledges do not capsize. This light is
also very trying to the eyes, and one often hears of snow-blindness
after such a day. The cause of this is not only that one strains one’s
eyes continually; it is also brought about by carelessness. One is
very apt to push one’s snow-goggles up on to one’s forehead, especially
if they are fitted with dark glasses. However, we always came through
it very well; only a few of us had a little touch of this unpleasant
complaint. Curiously enough, snow-blindness has something in common
with seasickness. If you ask a man whether he is seasick, in nine
cases out of ten he will answer: “No, not at all — only a little
queer in the stomach.” It is the same, in a slightly different way,
with snow-blindness. If a man comes into the tent in the evening with
an inflamed eye and you ask him whether he is snow-blind, you may
be sure he will be almost offended. “Snow-blind? Is it likely? No,
not at all, only a little queer about the eye.”

We did seventeen miles[5] that day without exertion. We had two tents,
and slept two in a tent. These tents were made for three men, but were
too small for four. Cooking was only done in one, both for the sake
of economy, so that we might leave more at the depot, and because it
was unnecessary, as the weather was still quite mild.

On this first trip, as on all the depot journeys, our morning
arrangements took far too long. We began to get ready at four, but
were not on the road till nearly eight. I was always trying some means
of remedying this, but without success. It will naturally be asked,
What could be the cause of this? and I will answer candidly — it was
dawdling and nothing else. On these depot journeys it did not matter so
much, but on the main journey we had to banish dawdling relentlessly.

Next day we did the allotted seventeen miles in six hours, and pitched
our camp early in the afternoon. The dogs were rather tired, as it
had been uphill work all day. To-day, from a distance of twenty-eight
miles, we could look down into the Bay of Whales; this shows that we
had ascended considerably. We estimated our camp that evening to be 500
feet above the sea. We were astonished at this rise, but ought not to
have been so really, since we had already estimated this ridge at 500
feet when we first saw it from the end of the bay. But however it may
be, most of us have a strong propensity for setting up theories and
inventing something new. What others have seen does not interest us,
and on this occasion we took the opportunity — I say we, because I
was one of them — of propounding a new theory — that of an evenly
advancing ice-slope from the Antarctic plateau. We saw ourselves in
our mind’s eye ascending gradually to the top, and thus avoiding a
steep and laborious climb among the mountains.

The day had been very warm, +12.2° F., and I had been obliged to
throw off everything except the most necessary underclothes. My
costume may be guessed from the name I gave to the ascent —
Singlet Hill. There was a thick fog when we turned out next morning,
exceedingly unpleasant. Here every inch was over virgin ground, and we
had to do it blindly. That day we had a feeling of going downhill. At
one o’clock land was reported right ahead. From the gesticulations
of those in front I made out that it must be uncommonly big. I saw
absolutely nothing, but that was not very surprising. My sight is
not specially good, and the land did not exist.

The fog lifted, and the surface looked a little broken. The
imaginary land lasted till the next day, when we found out that it
had only been a descending bank of fog. That day we put on the pace,
and did twenty-five miles instead of our usual seventeen. We were
very lightly clad. There could be no question of skins; they were
laid aside at once. Very light wind-clothing was all we wore over
our underclothes. On this journey most of us slept barelegged in
the sleeping-bags. Next day we were surprised by brilliantly clear
weather and a dead calm. For the first time we had a good view. Towards
the south the Barrier seemed to continue, smooth and even, without
ascending. Towards the east, on the other hand, there was a marked
rise — presumably towards King Edward VII. Land, we thought then. In
the course of the afternoon we passed the first fissure we had met
with. It had apparently been filled up long ago. Our distance that
day was twenty-three miles.

On these depot journeys we were always very glad of our Thermos
flasks. In the middle of the day we made a halt, and took a cup of
scalding hot chocolate, and it was very pleasant to be able to get one
without any trouble in the middle of the snow plateau. On the final
southern journey we did not take Thermos flasks. We had no lunch then.

On February 14, after a march of eleven and a half miles, we reached
80° S. Unfortunately we did not succeed in getting any astronomical
observation on this trip, as the theodolite we had brought with us
went wrong, but later observations on several occasions gave 79°
59′ S. Not so bad in fog. We had marked out the route up to this
point with bamboo poles and flags at every 15 kilometres. Now, as
we had not fixed the position by astronomical observation, we found
that the flags would not be sufficient, and we had to look for some
other means of marking the spot. A few empty cases were broken up and
gave a certain number of marks, but not nearly enough. Then our eyes
fell upon a bundle of dried fish lying on one of the sledges, and our
marking pegs were found. I should like to know whether any road has
been marked out with dried fish before; I doubt it. Immediately on
our arrival in lat. 80° — at eleven in the morning — we began to
erect the depot. It was made quite solid, and was 12 feet high. The
going here in 80° was quite different from what we had had all the
rest of the way. Deep, loose snow every-where gave us the impression
that it must have fallen in perfectly still weather. Generally when
we passed by here — but not always — we found this loose snow.

When the depot was finished and had been photographed, we threw
ourselves on the sledges and began the homeward journey. It was
quite a treat to sit and be drawn along, a thing that otherwise
never happened. Prestrud sat with me. Hanssen drove first, but as
he now had the old track to follow, he wanted no one in front. On
the last sledge we had the marking pegs. Prestrud kept an eye on the
sledge-meter, and sang out at every half-kilometre, while at the same
time I stuck a dried fish into the snow. This method of marking the
route proved a brilliant one. Not only did the dried fish show us the
right way on several occasions, but they also came in very useful on
the next journey, when we returned with starving dogs. That day we
covered forty-three miles. We did not get to bed till one o’clock at
night, but this did not prevent our being up again at four and off
at half-past seven. At half-past nine in the evening we drove into
Framheim, after covering sixty-two miles that day. Our reason for
driving that distance was not to set up any record for the Barrier,
but to get home, if possible, before the Fram sailed, and thus have an
opportunity of once more shaking hands with our comrades and wishing
them a good voyage. But as we came over the edge of the Barrier we
saw that, in spite of all our pains, we had come too late. The Fram
was not there. It gave us a strange and melancholy feeling, not easy
to understand. But the next moment common sense returned, and our
joy at her having got away from the Barrier undamaged after the long
stay was soon uppermost. We heard that she had left the bay at noon
the same day — just as we were spurting our hardest to reach her.

This depot journey was quite sufficient to tell us what the future
had in store. After this we were justified in seeing it in a rosy
light. We now had experience of the three important factors —
the lie of the ground, the going, and the means of traction —
and the result was that nothing could be better. Everything was in
the most perfect order. I had always had a high opinion of the dog
as a draught animal, but after this last performance my admiration
for these splendid animals rose to the pitch of enthusiasm. Let us
look at what my dogs accomplished on this occasion: On February 14
they went eleven miles southward with a load of 770 pounds, and on
the same day thirty-two miles northward — only four of them, the
“Three Musketeers” and Lassesen, as Fix and Snuppesen refused to do any
work. The weight they started with from 80°S. was that of the sledge,
165 pounds; Prestrud, 176 pounds; and myself, 182 pounds. Add to this
154 pounds for sleeping-bags, ski, and dried fish, and we have a total
weight of 677 pounds, or about 170 pounds per dog. The last day they
did sixty-two miles. I think the dogs showed on this occasion that
they were well suited for sledging on the Barrier.

In addition to this brilliant result, we arrived at several other
conclusions. In the first place, the question of the long time spent in
our morning preparations thrust itself on our notice: this could not
be allowed to occur on the main journey. At least two hours might be
saved, I had no doubt of that — but how? I should have to take time to
think it over. What required most alteration was our heavy outfit. The
sledges were constructed with a view to the most difficult conditions
of ground. The surface here was of the easiest kind, and consequently
permitted the use of the lightest outfit. We ought to be able to reduce
the weight of the sledges by at least half — possibly more. Our big
canvas ski-boots were found to need thorough alteration. They were too
small and too stiff, and had to be made larger and softer. Foot-gear
had such an important bearing on the success of the whole expedition
that we had to do all that could be done to get it right.

The four who had stayed at home had accomplished a fine piece of
work. Framheim was hardly recognizable with the big new addition on
its western wall. This pent-house was of the same width as the hut —
13 feet — and measured about 10 feet the other way. Windows had been
put in — two of them — and it looked quite bright and pleasant when
one came in; but this was not to last for long. Our architects had
also dug a passage, 5 feet wide, round the whole hut, and this was now
covered over, simply by prolonging the sloping roof down to the snow
to form a roof over this passage. On the side facing east a plank was
fixed across the gable at the required height, and from this boards
were brought down to the snow. The lower part of this new extension
of the roof was well strengthened, as the weight of snow that would
probably accumulate upon it in the course of the winter would be very
great. This passage was connected with the pent-house by a side-door
in the northern wall. The passage was constructed to serve as a place
for storing tinned foods and fresh meat, besides which its eastern end
afforded an excellent place to get snow for melting. Here Lindstrцm
could be sure of getting as much clean snow as he wanted, which was
an impossibility outside the house. We had 120 dogs running about,
and they were not particular as to the purpose for which we might want
the snow. But here in this snow wall Lindstrцm had no need to fear the
dogs. Another great advantage was that he would not have to go out in
bad weather, darkness, and cold, every time he wanted a piece of ice.

We now had to turn our attention in the first place, before the cold
weather set in, to the arrangement of our dog tents. We could not leave
them standing as they were on the snow; if we did so, we should soon
find that dogs’ teeth are just as sharp as knives; besides which, they
would be draughty and cold for the animals. To counteract this, the
floor of each tent was sunk 6 feet below the surface of the Barrier. A
great part of this excavation had to be done with axes, as we soon came
to the bare ice. One of these dog tents, when finished, had quite an
important appearance, when one stood at the bottom and looked up. It
measured 18 feet from the floor to the peak of the tent, and the
diameter of the floor was 15 feet. Then twelve posts were driven into
the ice of the floor at equal intervals round the wall of the tent,
and the dogs were tethered to them. From the very first day the dogs
took a liking to their quarters, and they were right, as they were well
off there. I do not remember once seeing frost-rime on the coats of
my dogs down in the tent. They enjoyed every advantage there — air,
without draughts, light, and sufficient room. Round the tent-pole we
left a pillar of snow standing in the middle of the tent to the height
of a man. It took us two days to put our eight dog tents in order.

Before the Fram sailed one of the whale-boats had been put ashore on
the Barrier. One never knew; if we found ourselves in want of a boat,
it would be bad to have none, and if we did not have to use it, there
was no great harm done. It was brought up on two sledges drawn by
twelve dogs, and was taken some distance into the Barrier. The mast
stood high in the air, and showed us its position clearly.

Besides all their other work, the four men had found time for shooting
seals while we were away, and large quantities of meat were now
stowed everywhere. We had to lose no time in getting ready the tent
in which we stored our chief supply of seal meat. It would not have
lasted long if we had left it unprotected on the ground. To keep off
the dogs, we built a wall 7 feet high of large blocks of snow. The
dogs themselves saw to its covering with ice, and for the time being
all possibility of their reaching the meat was removed.

We did not let the floor grow old under our feet; it was time to be
off again to the south with more food. Our departure was fixed for
February 22, and before that time we had a great deal to do. All the
provisions had first to be brought from the main depot and prepared
for the journey. Then we had to open the cases of pemmican, take
out the boxes in which it was soldered, four rations in each, cut
these open, and put the four rations back in the case without the
tin lining. By doing this we saved so much weight, and at the same
time avoided the trouble of having this work to do later on in the
cold. The tin packing was used for the passage through the tropics,
where I was afraid the pemmican might possibly melt and run into
the hold of the ship. This opening and repacking took a long time,
but we got through it. We used the pent-house as a packing-shed.

Another thing that took up a good deal of our time was our personal
outfit. The question of boots was gone into thoroughly. Most of us were
in favour of the big outer boots, but in a revised edition. There
were a few — but extremely few — who declared for nothing but
soft foot-gear. In this case it did not make so much difference,
since they all knew that the big boots would have to be brought on
the final journey on account of possible work on glaciers. Those,
therefore, who wanted to wear soft foot-gear, and hang their boots
on the sledge, might do so if they liked. I did not want to force
anyone to wear boots he did not care for; it might lead to too much
unpleasantness and responsibility. Everyone, therefore, might do as he
pleased. Personally I was in favour of boots with stiff soles, so long
as the uppers could be made soft and sufficiently large to give room
for as many stockings as one wished to wear. It was a good thing the
boot-maker could not look in upon us at Framheim just then — and many
times afterwards, for that matter. The knife was mercilessly applied
to all his beautiful work, and all the canvas, plus a quantity of the
superfluous leather, was cut away. As I had no great knowledge of the
shoemaker’s craft, I gladly accepted Wisting’s offer to operate on
mine. The boots were unrecognizable when I got them back from him. As
regards shape, they were perhaps just as smart before the alteration,
but as that is a very unimportant matter in comparison with ease
and comfort, I considered them improved by many degrees. The thick
canvas was torn off and replaced by thin weather-proof fabric. Big
wedges were inserted in the toes, and allowed room for several more
pairs of stockings. Besides this, one of the many soles was removed,
thus increasing the available space. It appeared to me that now I had
foot-gear that combined all the qualities I demanded — stiff soles,
on which Huitfeldt-Hцyer Ellefsen ski-bindings could be used, and
otherwise soft, so that the foot was not pinched anywhere. In spite
of all these alterations, my boots were once more in the hands of the
operator before the main journey, but then they were made perfect. The
boots of all the others underwent the same transformation, and every
day our outfit became more complete. A number of minor alterations
in our wardrobe were also carried out. One man was an enthusiast
for blinkers on his cap; another did not care for them. One put on
a nose-protector; another took his off; and if there was a question
of which was right, each was prepared to defend his idea to the
last. These were all alterations of minor importance, but being due to
individual judgment, they helped to raise the spirits and increase
self-confidence. Patents for braces also became the fashion. I
invented one myself, and was very proud of it for a time — indeed,
I had the satisfaction of seeing it adopted by one of my rivals. But
that rarely happened; each of us wanted to make his own inventions,
and to be as original as possible. Any contrivance that resembled
something already in use was no good. But we found, like the farmer,
that the old way often turned out to be the best.

By the evening of February 21 we were again ready to start. The sledges
— seven in number — stood ready packed, and were quite imposing
in appearance. Tempted by the favourable outcome of our former trip,
we put too much on our sledges this time — on some of them, in any
case. Mine was overloaded. I had to suffer for it afterwards — or,
rather, my noble animals did.

On February 22, at 8.30 a.m., the caravan moved off — eight men, seven
sledges, and forty-two dogs — and the most toilsome part of our whole
expedition began. As usual, we began well from Framheim. Lindstrцm,
who was to stay at home alone and look after things, did not stand
and wave farewells to us. Beaming with joy, he made for the hut as
soon as the last sledge was in motion. He was visibly relieved. But
I knew very well that before long he would begin to take little turns
outside to watch the ridge. Would they soon be coming?

There was a light breeze from the south, dead against us, and the sky
was overcast. Newly fallen snow made the going heavy, and the dogs had
hard work with their loads. Our former tracks were no longer visible,
but we were lucky enough to find the first flag, which stood eleven
miles inland. From there we followed the dried fish, which stood out
sharply against the white snow and were very easy to see. We pitched
our camp at six o’clock in the evening, having come a distance
of seventeen miles. Our camp was quite imposing — four tents for
three men apiece, with two in each. In two of them the housekeeping
arrangements were carried on. The weather had improved during the
afternoon, and by evening we had the most brilliantly clear sky.

Next day the going was even heavier, and the dogs were severely
tried. W e did no more than twelve and a half miles after eight hours’
march. The temperature remained reasonable, +5° F. We had lost our
dried fish, and for the last few hours were going only by compass.

February 24 began badly — a strong wind from the south-east, with
thick driving snow. We could see nothing, and had to steer our
course by compass. It was bitter going against the wind, although
the temperature was no worse than -0.4° F. We went all day without
seeing any mark. The snow stopped falling about noon, and at three
o’clock it cleared. As we were looking about for a place to pitch
the tents, we caught sight of one of our flags. When we reached it,
we found it was flag No. 5 — all our bamboos were numbered, so we
knew the exact position of the flag. No. 5 was forty-four and a half
miles from Framheim. This agreed well with the distance recorded —
forty-four miles.

The next day was calm and clear, and the temperature began to
descend, -13° F. But in spite of this lower temperature the air
felt considerably milder, as it was quite still. We followed marks
and fish the whole way, and at the end of our day’s journey we had
covered eighteen miles — a good distance for heavy going.

We then had a couple of days of bitter cold with fog, so that we did
not see much of our surroundings. We followed the fish and the marks
most of the way. We had already begun to find the fish useful as
extra food; the dogs took it greedily. The forerunner had to take up
each fish and throw it on one side; then one of the drivers went out,
took it up, and put it on his sledge. If the dogs had come upon the
fish standing in the snow we should soon have had fierce fights. Even
now, before we reached the depot in 80° S., the dogs began to show
signs of exhaustion, probably as a result of the cold weather (-16.6°
F.) and the hard work. They were stiff in the legs in the morning
and difficult to set going.

On February 27, at 10.30 a.m., we reached the depot in 80° S. The
depot was standing as we had left it, and no snow-drifts had formed
about it, from which we concluded that the weather conditions had been
quiet. The snow, which we had found very loose when we were there
before, was now hardened by the cold. We were lucky with the sun,
and got the position of the depot accurately determined.

On our way across these endless plains, where no landmarks of
any kind are to be found, we had repeatedly thought of a means of
marking our depots so that we might be perfectly sure of finding
them again. Our fight for the Pole was entirely dependent on this
autumn work, in laying down large supplies of provisions as far to
the south as possible in such a way that we could be certain of
finding them again. If we missed them, the battle would probably
be lost. As I have said, we had discussed the question thoroughly,
and come to the conclusion that we should have to try to mark our
depots at right angles to the route, in an east and west direction,
instead of in a line with the route, north and south. These marks
along the line of the route may easily be missed in fog, if they
are not close enough together; and if one thus gets out of the line,
there is a danger of not picking it up again. According to this new
arrangement we therefore marked this depot in 80° S. with high bamboo
poles carrying black flags. We used twenty of these — ten on each side
of the depot. Between each two flags there was a distance of 984 yards
(900 metres), so that the distance marked on each side of the depot
was five and a half miles (nine kilometres). Each bamboo was marked
with a number, so that we should always be able to tell from this
number on which side the depot lay, and how far off. This method
was entirely new and untried, but proved afterwards to work with
absolute certainty. Our compasses and sledge-meters had, of course,
been carefully adjusted at the station, and we knew that we could
rely on them.

Having put this in order, we continued our journey on the following
day. The temperature fell steadily as we went inland; if it continued
in this way it would be cold before one got to the Pole. The surface
remained as before — flat and even. We ourselves had a feeling
that we were ascending, but, as the future will show, this was only
imagination. We had had no trouble with fissures, and it almost looked
as if we should avoid them altogether, since, of course, it might
be supposed that the part of the Barrier nearest the edge would be
the most fissured, and we had already left that behind us. South of
80° we found the going easier, but the dogs were now beginning to
be stiff and sore-footed, and it was hard work to get them started
in the morning. The sore feet I am speaking of here are not nearly
so bad as those the dogs are liable to on the sea-ice of the Arctic
regions. What caused sore feet on this journey was the stretches of
snow-crust we had to cross; it was not strong enough to bear the dogs,
and they broke through and cut their paws. Sore feet were also caused
by the snow caking and sticking between the toes. But the dog that has
to travel on sea-ice in spring and summer is exposed to worse things —
the sharp ice cuts the paws and the salt gets in. To prevent this kind
of sore feet one is almost obliged to put socks on the dogs. With the
kind of foot-trouble our dogs experienced it is not necessary to take
any such precautions. As a result of the long sea voyage their feet
had become unusually tender and could not stand much. On our spring
journey we noticed no sore-footedness, in spite of the conditions
being worse rather than better; probably their feet had got into
condition in the course of the winter.

On March 3 we reached 81° S. The temperature was then -45.4° F.,
and it did not feel pleasant. The change had come too rapidly; this
could be seen both in men and in dogs. We pitched our camp at three
in the afternoon, and went straight into the tents. The following
day was employed in building and marking the depot. That night was
the coldest we observed on the trip, as the temperature was -49°
F. when we turned out in the morning. If one compares the conditions
of temperature in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, it will be seen
that this temperature is an exceptionally low one. The beginning of
March corresponds, of course, to the beginning of September in the
northern hemisphere — a time of year when summer still prevails. We
were astonished to find this low temperature while summer ought still
to have lasted, especially when I remembered the moderate temperatures
Shackleton had observed on his southern sledge journey. The idea at
once occurred to me of the existence of a local pole of maximum cold
extending over the central portion of the Ross Barrier. A comparison
with the observations recorded at Captain Scott’s station in McMurdo
Sound might to some extent explain this. In order to establish it
completely one would require to have information about the conditions
in King Edward Land as well. The observations Dr. Mawson is now engaged
upon in Adйlie Land and on the Barrier farther west will contribute
much to the elucidation of this question.

In 81° S. we laid down a depot consisting of fourteen cases of dogs’
pemmican — 1,234 pounds. For marking this depot we had no bamboo
poles, so there was nothing to be done but to break up some cases
and use the pieces as marks; this was, at any rate, better than
nothing. Personally, I considered these pieces of wood, 2 feet high,
good enough, considering the amount of precipitation I had remarked
since our arrival in these regions. The precipitation we had observed
was very slight, considering the time of year — spring and summer. If,
then, the snowfall was so inconsiderable at this time of the year
and along the edge of the Barrier, what might it not be in autumn
and winter in the interior? As I have said, something was better than
nothing, and Bjaaland, Hassel, and Stubberud, who were to return to
Lindstrцm’s flesh-pots on the following day, were given the task of
setting up these marks. As with the former depot, this one was marked
for nine kilometres on each side from east to west. So that we might
know where the depot was, in case we should come upon one of these
marks in a fog, all those on the east were marked with a little cut
of an axe. I must confess they looked insignificant, these little
bits of wood that were soon lost to sight on the boundless plain,
and the idea that they held the key of the castle where the fair one
slept made me smile. They looked altogether too inconsiderable for
such an honour. Meanwhile, we others, who were to go on to the south,
took it easy. The rest was good for the dogs especially, though the
cold prevented their enjoying it as they should have done.

At eight o’clock next morning we parted company with the three who
went north. I had to send home one of my dogs, Odin, who had got an
ugly raw place — I was using Greenland harness on him — and I went
on with five dogs. These were very thin, and apparently worn out;
but in any case we had to reach 82° S. before we gave up. I had had
some hope that we might have got to 83°, but it began to look as if
we had a poor chance of that. After 81° S. the Barrier began to take
on a slightly different appearance instead of the absolutely flat
surface, we saw on the first day a good many small formations of
the shape of haycocks. At that time we did not pay much attention
to these apparently insignificant irregularities, but later on we
learned to keep our eyes open and our feet active when passing in
their vicinity. On this first day southward from 81° S. we noticed
nothing; the going was excellent, the temperature not so bad as it
had been, -27.4° F., and the distance covered very creditable. The
next day we got our first idea of the meaning of these little mounds,
as the surface was cut up by crevasse after crevasse. These fissures
were not particularly wide, but were bottomless, as far as we could
see. About noon Hanssen’s three leading dogs, Helge, Mylius, and Ring,
fell into one of them, and remained hanging by their harness; and it
was lucky the traces held, as the loss of these three would have been
severely felt. When the rest of the team saw these three disappear,
they stopped short. Fortunately, they had a pronounced fear of these
fissures, and always stopped when anything happened. We understood
now that the haycock formations were the result of pressure, and that
crevasses were always found in their neighbourhood.

That day was for the most part thick and hazy, with a northerly wind,
and snow-showers from time to time. Between the showers we caught
sight of lofty — very lofty — pressure ridges, three or four of them,
to the eastward. We estimated their distance at about six miles. Next
day, March 7, we had the same experience that Shackleton mentions on
several occasions. The morning began clear and fine, with a temperature
of -40° F. In the course of the forenoon a breeze sprang up from
the south-east, and increased to a gale during the afternoon. The
temperature rose rapidly, and when we pitched our camp at three in
the afternoon it was only -0.4° F. At our camping-place that morning
we left a case of dogs’ pemmican, for use on the homeward journey,
and marked the way to the south with splinters of board at every
kilometre. Our distance that day was only twelve and a half miles. Our
dogs, especially mine, looked miserable — terribly emaciated. It
was clear that they could only reach 82° S. at the farthest. Even
then the homeward journey would be a near thing.

We decided that evening to be satisfied with reaching 82°, and then
return. During this latter part of the trip we put up our two tents
front to front, so that the openings joined; in this way we were able
to send the food direct from one tent to the other without going
outside, and that was a great advantage. This circumstance led to
a radical alteration in our camping system, and gave us the idea
of the best five-man tent that has probably yet been seen in the
Polar regions. As we lay dozing that evening in our sleeping-bags,
thinking of everything and nothing, the idea suddenly occurred to
us that if the tents were sewed together as they now stood — after
the fronts had been cut away — we should get one tent that would
give us far more room for five than the two separate tents as they
were. The idea was followed up, and the fruit of it was the tent we
used on the journey to the Pole — an ideal tent in every way. Yes,
circumstances work wonders; for I suppose one need not make Providence
responsible for these trifles?

On March 8 we reached 82° S., and it was the utmost my five dogs could
manage. Indeed, as will shortly be seen, it was already too much. They
were completely worn out, poor beasts. This is the only dark memory of
my stay in the South — the over-taxing of these fine animals — I had
asked more of them than they were capable of doing. My consolation is
that I did not spare myself either. To set this sledge, weighing nearly
half a ton, in motion with tired-out dogs was no child’s play. And
setting it in motion was not always the whole of it: sometimes one
had to push it forward until one forced the dogs to move. The whip had
long ago lost its terrors. When I tried to use it, they only crowded
together, and got their heads as much out of the way as they could;
the body did not matter so much. Many a time, too, I failed altogether
to get them to go, and had to have help. Then two of us shoved the
sledge forward, while the third used the whip, shouting at the same
time for all he was worth. How hard and unfeeling one gets under such
conditions; how one’s whole nature may be changed! I am naturally fond
of all animals, and try to avoid hurting them. There is none of the
“sportsman’s” instinct in me; it would never occur to me to kill an
animal — rats and flies excepted — unless it was to support life. I
think I can say that in normal circumstances I loved my dogs, and the
feeling was undoubtedly mutual. But the circumstances we were now in
were not normal — or was it, perhaps, myself who was not normal? I
have often thought since that such was really the case. The daily hard
work and the object I would not give up had made me brutal, for brutal
I was when I forced those five skeletons to haul that excessive load. I
feel it yet when I think of Thor — a big, fine, smooth-haired dog —
uttering his plaintive howls on the march, a thing one never hears
a dog do while working. I did not understand what it meant — would
not understand, perhaps. On he had to go — on till he dropped. When
we cut him open we found that his whole chest was one large abscess.

The altitude at noon gave us 81° 54′ 30”,
and we therefore went the other six miles to the south, and pitched
our camp at 3.30 p.m. in 82° S. We had latterly had a constant
impression that the Barrier was rising, and in the opinion of all
of us we ought now to have been at a height of about 1,500 feet and
a good way up the slope leading to the Pole. Personally I thought
the ground continued to rise to the south. It was all imagination,
as our later measurements showed.

We had now reached our highest latitude that autumn, and had reason
to be well satisfied. We laid down 1,370 pounds here, chiefly dogs’
pemmican. We did nothing that afternoon, only rested a little. The
weather was brisk, clear and calm, -13° F. The distance this last
day was thirteen and a half miles.

Next day we stayed where we were, built our depot, and marked it. The
marking was done in the same way as in 81° S., with this difference,
that here the pieces of packing-case had small, dark blue strips
of cloth fastened to the top, which made them easier to see. We
made this depot very secure, so that we could be certain it would
stand bad weather in the course of the winter. I also left my sledge
behind, as I saw the impossibility of getting it home with my team;
besides which, an extra sledge at this point might possibly be useful
later. This depot — 12 feet high — was marked with a bamboo and a
flag on the top, so that it could be seen a great way off.

On March 10 we took the road for home. I had divided my dogs between
Wisting and Hanssen, but they got no assistance from these bags of
bones, only trouble. The other three teams had held out well. There
was hardly anything wrong to be seen with Hanssen’s. Wisting’s team
was looked upon as the strongest, but his dogs had got very thin;
however, they did their work well. Wisting’s sledge had also been
overloaded; it was even heavier than mine. Johansen’s animals had
originally been regarded as the weakest, but they proved themselves
very tough in the long-run. They were no racers, but always managed
to scramble along somehow. Their motto was: “If we don’t get there
to-day, we’ll get there to-morrow.” They all came home.

Our original idea was that the homeward journey should be a sort of
pleasure trip, that we should sit on the sledges and take it easy;
but in the circumstances this was not to be thought of. The dogs had
quite enough to do with the empty sledges. The same day we reached the
place where we had left a case of dogs’ pemmican, and camped there,
having done twenty-nine and three-quarter miles. The weather was cold
and raw; temperature, -25.6° F. This weather took the last remnant of
strength out of my dogs; instead of resting at night, they lay huddled
together and freezing. It was pitiful to see them. In the morning they
had to be lifted up and put on their feet; they had not strength enough
to raise themselves. When they had staggered on a little way and got
some warmth into their bodies, they seemed to be rather better —
at any rate, they could keep up with us. The following day we did
twenty-four and three-quarter miles; temperature, -32.8° F.

On the 12th we passed the depot in 81° S. The big pressure ridges
to the east were easily visible, and we got a good bearing, which
would possibly come in useful later for fixing the position of
the depot. That day we did twenty-four and three-quarter miles;
temperature, -39° F. March 13 began calm and fine, but by half-past
ten in the morning a strong wind had sprung up from the east-south-east
with thick driving snow. So as not to lose the tracks we had followed
so far, we pitched our camp, to wait till the storm was over. The wind
howled and took hold of the tents, but could not move them. The next
day it blew just as hard from the same quarter, and we decided to
wait. The temperature was as usual, with the wind in this quarter;
-11.2° F. The wind did not moderate till 10.30 a.m. on the 15th,
when we were able to make a start.

What a sight there was outside! How were we going to begin to bring
order out of this chaos? The sledges were completely snowed up;
whips, ski-bindings, and harness largely eaten up. It was a nice
predicament. Fortunately we were well supplied with Alpine rope,
and that did for the harness; spare straps came in for ski-bindings,
but the whips were not so easy to make good. Hanssen, who drove first,
was bound to have a fairly serviceable whip; the others did not matter
so much, though it was rather awkward for them. In some way or other
he provided himself with a whip that answered his purpose. I saw one
of the others armed with a tent-pole, and he used it till we reached
Framheim. At first the dogs were much afraid of this monster of a whip,
but they soon found out that it was no easy matter to reach them with
the pole, and then they did not care a scrap for it.

At last everything seemed to be in order, and then we only had to get
the dogs up and in their places. Several of them were so indifferent
that they had allowed themselves to be completely snowed under,
but one by one we got them out and put them on their feet. Thor,
however, refused absolutely. It was impossible to get him to stand
up; he simply lay and whined. There was nothing to be done but to put
an end to him, and as we had no firearms, it had to be done with an
axe. It was quite successful; less would have killed him. Wisting took
the carcass on his sledge to take it to the next camp, and there cut it
up. The day was bitterly cold — fog and snow with a southerly breeze;
temperature, -14.8° F. We were lucky enough to pick up our old tracks
of the southern journey, and could follow them. Lurven, Wisting’s
best dog, fell down on the march, and died on the spot. He was one
of those dogs who had to work their hardest the whole time; he never
thought of shirking for a moment; he pulled and pulled until he died.

All sentimental feeling had vanished long ago; nobody thought of giving
Lurven the burial he deserved. What was left of him, skin and bones,
was cut up and divided among his companions.

On March 16 we advanced seventeen miles; temperature, -29.2° F. Jens,
one of my gallant “Three Musketeers,” had been given a ride all day
on Wisting’s sledge; he was too weak to walk any longer. Thor was to
have been divided among his companions that evening, but, on account
of the abscess in his chest, we changed our minds. He was put into an
empty case and buried. During the night we were wakened by a fearful
noise. The dogs were engaged in a fierce fight, and it was easy to
guess from their howls that it was all about food. Wisting, who always
showed himself quickest in getting out of the bag, was instantly on
the spot, and then it was seen that they had dug up Thor, and were
now feasting on him. It could not be said that they were hard to
please in the way of food. Associations of ideas are curious things;
“sauce hollandaise” suddenly occurred to my mind. Wisting buried the
carcass again, and we had peace for the rest of the night.

On the 17th it felt bitterly cold, with -41.8° F., and a sharp
snowstorm from the south-east. Lassesen, one of my dogs, who had
been following the sledges loose, was left behind this morning at
the camping-place; we did not miss him till late in the day. Rasmus,
one of the “Three Musketeers,” fell to-day. Like Lurven, he pulled
till he died. Jens was very ill, could not touch food, and was taken
on Wisting’s sledge. We reached our depot in 80° S. that evening,
and were able to give the dogs a double ration. The distance covered
was twenty-one and three-quarter miles. The surface about here had
changed in our absence; great, high snow-waves were now to be seen
in all directions. On one of the cases in the depot Bjaaland had
written a short message, besides which we found the signal arranged
with Hassel — a block of snow on the top of the depot to show
that they had gone by, and that all was well. The cold continued
persistently. The following day we had -41.8° F. Ola and Jens, the
two survivors of the “Three Musketeers,” had to be put an end to that
day; it was a shame to keep them alive any longer. And with them the
“Three Musketeers” disappear from this history. They were inseparable
friends, these three; all of them almost entirely black. At Flekkerц,
near Christiansand, where we kept our dogs for several weeks before
taking them on board, Rasmus had got loose, and was impossible to
catch. He always came and slept with his two friends, unless he was
being hunted. We did not succeed in catching him until a few days
before we took them on board, and then he was practically wild. They
were all three tied up on the bridge on board, where I was to have
my team, and from that day my closer acquaintance with the trio is
dated. They were not very civilly disposed for the first month. I
had to make my advances with a long stick — scratch them on the
back. In this way I insinuated myself into their confidence, and we
became very good friends. But they were a terrible power on board;
wherever these three villains showed themselves, there was always a
row. They loved fighting. They were our fastest dogs. In our races
with empty sledges, when we were driving around Framheim, none of the
others could beat these three. I was always sure of leaving the rest
behind when I had them in my team.

I had quite given up Lassesen, who had been left behind that morning,
and I was very sorry for it, as he was my strongest and most willing
beast. I was glad, therefore, when he suddenly appeared again,
apparently fit and well. We presumed that he had dug up Thor again,
and finished him. It must have been food that had revived him. From
80° S. home he did remarkably good work in Wisting’s team.

That day we had a curious experience, which was useful for the
future. The compass on Hanssen’s sledge, which had always been
reliability itself, suddenly began to go wrong; at any rate, it did
not agree with the observations of the sun, which we fortunately had
that day. We altered our course in accordance with our bearings. In
the evening, when we took our things into the tent, the housewife,
with scissors, pins, needles, etc., had lain close against the
compass. No wonder it turned rebellious.

On March 19 we had a breeze from the south-east and -45.4° F. “Rather
fresh,” I find noted in my diary. Not long after we had started that
morning, Hanssen caught sight of our old tracks. He had splendid
eyesight — saw everything long before anyone else. Bjaaland also had
good sight, but he did not come up to Hanssen. The way home was now
straightforward, and we could see the end of our journey. Meanwhile
a gale sprang up from the south-east, which stopped us for a day;
temperature, -29.2° F. Next day the temperature had risen, as usual,
with a south-east wind; we woke up to find it +15.8° F. on the
morning of the 21st. That was a difference that could be felt, and
not an unpleasant one; we had had more than enough of -40°. It was
curious weather that night: violent gusts of wind from the east and
south-east, with intervals of dead calm — just as if they came off
high land. On our way northward that day we passed our flag No. 6,
and then knew that we were fifty-three miles from Framheim. Pitched
our camp that evening at thirty-seven miles from the station. We
had intended to take this stretch of the way in two days, seeing
how tired the dogs were; but it turned out otherwise, for we lost
our old tracks during the forenoon, and in going on we came too far
to the east, and high up on the ridge mentioned before. Suddenly
Hanssen sang out that he saw something funny in front — what it
was he did not know. When that was the case, we had to apply to the
one who saw even better than Hanssen, and that was my glass. Up with
the glass, then — the good old glass that has served me for so many
years. Yes, there was certainly something curious. It must be the
Bay of Whales that we were looking down into, but what were those
black things moving up and down? They are our fellows hunting seals,
someone suggested, and we all agreed. Yes, of course, it was so clear
that there was no mistaking it. “I can see a sledge — and there’s
another — and there’s a third.” We nearly had tears in our eyes to
see how industrious they were. “Now they’re gone. No; there they are
again. Strange how they bob up and down, those fellows!” It proved to
be a mirage; what we saw was Framheim with all its tents. Our lads,
we were sure, were just taking a comfortable midday nap, and the
tears we were nearly shedding were withdrawn. Now we could survey
the situation calmly. There lay Framheim, there was Cape Man’s Head,
and there West Cape, so that we had come too far to the east. “Hurrah
for Framheim! half-past seven this evening,” shouted one. “Yes, that’s
all we can do,” cried another; and away we went. We set our course
straight for the middle of the bay. We must have got pretty high up,
as we went down at a terrific pace. This was more than the forerunner
could manage; he flung himself on a sledge as it went by. I had a
glimpse of Hanssen, who was busy making a whip-handle, as I passed;
the soles of his feet were then very prominent. I myself was lying
on Hanssen’s sledge, shaking with laughter; the situation was too
comical. Hanssen picked himself up again just as the last sledge was
passing and jumped on. We all collected in a mass below the ridge —
sledges and dogs mixed up together.

The last part of the way was rather hard work. We now found the
tracks that we had lost early in the day; one dried fish after
another stuck up out of the snow and led us straight on. We reached
Framheim at seven in the evening, half an hour earlier than we had
thought. It was a day’s march of thirty-seven miles — not so bad
for exhausted dogs. Lassesen was the only one I brought home out of
my team. Odin, whom I had sent home from 81° S., died after arriving
there. We lost altogether eight dogs on this trip; two of Stubberud’s
died immediately after coming home from 81° S. Probably the cold was
chiefly responsible; I feel sure that with a reasonable temperature
they would have come through. The three men who came home from 81°
S. were safe and sound. It is true that they had run short of food
and matches the last day, but if the worst came to the worst, they
had the dogs. Since their return they had shot, brought in, cut up,
and stowed away, fifty seals — a very good piece of work.

Lindstrцm had been untiring during our absence; he had put everything
in splendid order. In the covered passage round the hut he had cut out
shelves in the snow and filled them with slices of seal meat. Here
alone there were steaks enough for the whole time we should spend
here. On the outer walls of the hut, which formed the other side of
the passage, he had put up shelves, and there all kinds of tinned
foods were stored. All was in such perfect order that one could put
one’s hand on what one wanted in the dark. There stood salt meat
and bacon by themselves, and there were fish-cakes. There you read
the label on a tin of caramel pudding, and you could be sure that
the rest of the caramel puddings were in the vicinity. Quite right;
there they stood in a row, like a company of soldiers. Oh, Lindstrцm,
how long will this order last?

Well, that was, of course, a question I put to myself in the strictest
secrecy. Let me turn over my diary. On Thursday, July 27, I find the
following entry: “The provision passage turns our days into chaotic
confusion. How my mind goes back to the time when one could find
what one wanted without a light of any kind! If you put out your hand
to get a plum-pudding and shut it again, you could be sure it was a
plum-pudding you had hold of. And so it was throughout Lindstrцm’s
department. But now — good Heavens! I am ashamed to put down what
happened to me yesterday. I went out there in the most blissful
ignorance of the state of things now prevailing, and, of course,
I had no light with me, for everything had its place. I put out my
hand and grasped. According to my expectation I ought to have been in
possession of a packet of candles, but the experiment had failed. That
which I held in my hand could not possibly be a packet of candles. It
was evident from the feel that it was something of a woollen nature. I
laid the object down, and had recourse to the familiar expedient
of striking a match. Do you know what it was? A dirty old — pair
of pants! and do you want to know where I found it? Well, it was
between the butter and the sweetmeats. That was mixing things up
with a vengeance.” But Lindstrцm must not have all the blame. In this
passage everyone was running backwards and forwards, early and late,
and as a rule in the dark. And if they knocked something down on the
way, I am not quite sure that they always stopped to pick it up again.

Then he had painted the ceiling of the room white. How cosy it
looked when we put our heads in that evening! He had seen us a long
way off on the Barrier, the rascal, and now the table was laid with
all manner of dainties. But seal-steaks and the smell of coffee were
what attracted us, and it was no small quantity that disappeared that
evening. Home! — that word has a good sound, wherever it may be, at
sea, on land, or on — the Barrier. How comfortable we made ourselves
that night! The first thing we did now was to dry all our reindeer-skin
clothes; they were wet through. This was not to be done in a hurry. We
had to stretch the garments that were to be dried on lines under the
ceiling of the room, so that we could not dry very much at a time.

We got everything ready, and made some improvements in our outfit
for a last depot journey before the winter set in. This time the
destination was 80° S., with about a ton and a quarter of fresh seal
meat. How immensely important it would be on the main journey if we
could give our dogs as much seal meat as they could eat at 80° S.;
we all saw the importance of this, and were eager to carry it out. We
set to work once more at the outfit; the last trip had taught us much
that was new. Thus Prestrud and Johansen had come to the conclusion
that a double sleeping-bag was preferable to two single ones. I will
not enter upon the discussion that naturally arose on this point. The
double bag has many advantages, and so has the single bag; let it
therefore remain a matter of taste. Those two were, however, the only
ones who made this alteration. Hanssen and Wisting were busy carrying
out the new idea for the tents, and it was not long before they had
finished. These tents are as much like a snow hut in form as they can
be; instead of being entirely round, they have a more oblong form,
but there is no flat side, and the wind has no point of attack. Our
personal outfit also underwent some improvements.

The Bay of Whales — the inner part of it, from Man’s Head to West
Cape — was now entirely frozen over, but outside the sea lay immense
and dark. Our house was now completely covered with snow. Most of
this was Lindstrцm’s work; the blizzard had not helped him much. This
covering with snow has a great deal to do with keeping the hut snug
and warm. Our dogs — 107 in number — mostly look like pigs getting
ready for Christmas; even the famished ones that made the last trip
are beginning to recover. It is an extraordinary thing how quickly
such an animal can put on flesh.

It was interesting to watch the home-coming of the dogs from the
last trip. They showed no sign of surprise when we came into camp;
they might have been there all the time. It is true they were rather
more hungry than the rest. The meeting between Lassesen and Fix was
comic. These two were inseparable friends; the first-named was boss,
and the other obeyed him blindly. On this last trip I had left Fix at
home, as he did not give me the impression of being quite up to the
work; he had therefore put on a lot of flesh, big eater as he was. I
stood and watched their meeting with intense curiosity. Would not Fix
take advantage of the occasion to assume the position of boss? In such
a mass of dogs it took some little time before they came across each
other. Then it was quite touching. Fix ran straight up to the other,
began to lick him, and showed every sign of the greatest affection
and joy at seeing him again. Lassesen, on his part, took it all with
a very superior air, as befits a boss. Without further ceremony, he
rolled his fat friend in the snow and stood over him for a while —
no doubt to let him know that he was still absolute master, beyond
dispute. Poor Fix! — he looked quite crestfallen. But this did not
last long; he soon avenged himself on the other, knowing that he
could tackle him with safety.

In order to give a picture of our life as it was at this time, I
will quote a day from my diary. March 25 — Saturday: “Beautiful mild
weather, +6.8° F. all day. Very light breeze from the south-east. Our
seal-hunters — the party that came home from 81° S. — were out this
morning, and brought back three seals. This makes sixty-two seals
altogether since their return on March 11. We have now quite enough
fresh meat both for ourselves and for all our dogs. We get to like
seal-steak more and more every day. We should all be glad to eat it
at every meal, but we think it safer to make a little variety. For
breakfast — eight o’clock — we now have regularly hot cakes with
jam, and Lindstrцm knows how to prepare them in a way that could not
be surpassed in the best American houses. In addition, we have bread,
butter, cheese, and coffee. For dinner we mostly have seal meat (we
introduced rather more tinned meat into the menu in the course of the
winter), and sweets in the form of tinned Californian fruit, tarts,
and tinned puddings. For supper, seal-steak, with whortleberry jam,
cheese, bread, butter, and coffee. Every Saturday evening a glass of
toddy and a cigar. I must frankly confess that I have never lived so
well. And the consequence is that we are all in the best of health, and
I feel certain that the whole enterprise will be crowned with success.

“It is strange indeed here to go outside in the evening and see the
cosy, warm lamp-light through the window of our little snow-covered
hut, and to feel that this is our snug, comfortable home on the
formidable and dreaded Barrier. All our little puppies — as round
as Christmas pigs — are wandering about outside, and at night they
lie in crowds about the door. They never take shelter under a roof
at night. They must be hardy beasts. Some of them are so fat that
they waddle just like geese.”

The aurora australis was seen for the first time on the evening of
March 28. It was composed of shafts and bands, and extended from the
south-west to the north-east through the zenith. The light was pale
green and red. We see many fine sunsets here, unique in the splendour
of their colour. No doubt the surroundings in this fairyland of blue
and white do much to increase their beauty.

The departure of the last depot journey was fixed for Friday, March
31. A few days before, the seal-hunting party went out on the ice and
shot six seals for the depot. They were cleaned and all superfluous
parts removed, so that they should not be too heavy. The weight of
these six seals was then estimated at about 2,400 pounds.

On March 31, at 10 a.m., the last depot party started. It consisted
of seven men, six sledges, and thirty-six dogs. I did not go myself
this time. They had the most beautiful weather to begin their journey
— dead calm and brilliantly clear. At seven o’clock that morning,
when I came out of the hut, I saw a sight so beautiful that I shall
never forget it. The whole surroundings of the station lay in deep,
dark shadow, in lee of the ridge to the east. But the sun’s rays
reached over the Barrier farther to the north, and there the Barrier
lay golden red, bathed in the morning sun. It glittered and shone,
red and gold, against the jagged row of mighty masses of ice that
bounds our Barrier on the north. A spirit of peace breathed over
all. But from Framheim the smoke ascended quietly into the air,
and proclaimed that the spell of thousands of years was broken.

The sledges were heavily loaded when they went southward. I saw them
slowly disappear over the ridge by the starting-place. It was a quiet
time that followed after all the work and hurry of preparation. Not
that we two who stayed at home sat still doing nothing. We made
good use of the time. The first thing to be done was to put our
meteorological station in order. On April 1 all the instruments
were in use. In the kitchen were hung our two mercury barometers,
four aneroids, barograph, thermograph, and one thermometer. They were
placed in a well-protected corner, farthest from the stove. We had
no house as yet for our outside instruments, but the sub-director
went to work to prepare one as quickly as possible, and so nimble
were his hands that when the depot party returned there was the
finest instrument-screen standing ready on the hill, painted white
so that it shone a long way off: The wind-vane was a work of art,
constructed by our able engineer, Sundbeck. No factory could have
supplied a more handsome or tasteful one. In the instrument-screen we
had a thermograph, hygrometer, and thermometers. Observations were
made at 8 a.m., 2 p.m., and 8 p.m. When I was at home I took them,
and when I was away it was Lindstrцm’s work.

On the night before April 11 something or other fell down in the
kitchen — according to Lindstrцm, a sure sign that the travellers
might be expected home that day. And, sure enough, at noon we caught
sight of them up at the starting-place. They came across at such a
pace that the snow was scattered all round them, and in an hour’s
time we had them back. They had much to tell us. In the first place,
that everything had been duly taken to the depot in 80°S. Then they
surprised me with an account of a fearfully crevassed piece of
surface that they had come upon, forty-six and a half miles from
the station, where they had lost two dogs. This was very strange;
we had now traversed this stretch of surface four times without being
particularly troubled with anything of this sort, and then, all of a
sudden, when they thought the whole surface was as solid as a rock,
they found themselves in danger of coming to grief altogether. In
thick weather they had gone too far to the west; then, instead of
arriving at the ridge, as we had done before, they came down into the
valley, and there found a surface so dangerous that they nearly had
a catastrophe. It was a precisely similar piece of surface to that
already mentioned to the south of 81° S., but full of small hummocks
everywhere. The ground was apparently solid enough, and this was just
the most dangerous thing about it; but, as they were crossing it,
large pieces of the surface fell away just in rear of them, disclosing
bottomless crevasses, big enough to swallow up everything — men, dogs,
and sledges. With some difficulty they got out of this ugly place by
steering to the east. Now we knew of it, and we should certainly be
very careful not to come that way again. In spite of this, however,
we afterwards had an even more serious encounter with this nasty trap.

One dog had also been left behind on the way; it had a wound on one
of its feet, and could not be harnessed in the sledge. It had been
let loose a few miles to the north of the depot, doubtless with the
idea that it would follow the sledges. But the dog seemed to have
taken another view of the matter, and was never seen again. There
were some who thought that the dog had probably returned to the depot,
and was now passing its days in ease and luxury among the laboriously
transported seals’ carcasses. I must confess that this idea was not
very attractive to me; there was, indeed, a possibility that such a
thing had happened, and that the greater part of our seal meat might
be missing when we wanted it. But our fears proved groundless; Cook —
that was the name of the dog; we had a Peary as well, of course —
was gone for ever.

The improved outfit was in every way successful. Praises of the new
tent were heard on every hand, and Prestrud and Johansen were in the
seventh heaven over their double sleeping-bag. I fancy the others
were very well satisfied with their single ones.

And with this the most important part of the autumn’s work came to
an end. The foundation was solidly laid; now we had only to raise
the edifice. Let us briefly sum up the work accomplished between
January 14 and April 11: The complete erection of the station,
with accommodation for nine men for several years; provision of
fresh meat for nine men and a hundred and fifteen dogs for half a
year — the weight of the seals killed amounted to about 60 tons;
and, finally, the distribution of 3 tons of supplies in the depots in
latitudes 80°, 81°, and 82°S. The depot in 80°S. contained seal meat,
dogs’ pemmican, biscuits, butter, milk-powder, chocolate, matches,
and paraffin, besides a quantity of outfit. The total weight of this
depot was 4,200 pounds. In 81°S., 1/2 ton of dogs’ pemmican. In 82°S.,
pemmican, both for men and dogs, biscuits, milk-powder, chocolate,
and paraffin, besides a quantity of outfit. The weight of this depot
amounted to 1,366 pounds.


Preparing for Winter

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,
Lindstrцm 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 Lindstrцm’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 — Lindstrцm — 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. Lindstrцm 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. Lindstrцm 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 Lindstrцm, 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. Lindstrцm 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 Lindstrцm 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. Lindstrцm’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 Lindstrцm 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 Lindstrцm 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.


A Day at Framheim

In order to understand our daily life better, we will now make a tour
of Framheim. It is June 23, early in the morning. Perfect stillness
lies over the Barrier — such stillness as no one who has not been
in these regions has any idea of. We come up the old sledge road from
the place where the Fram used to lie. You will stop several times on
the way and ask whether this can be real; anything so inconceivably
beautiful has never yet been seen. There lies the northern edge of the
Fram Barrier, with Mounts Nelson and Rцnniken nearest; behind them,
ridge after ridge, peak after peak, the venerable pressure masses rise,
one higher than another. The light is so wonderful; what causes this
strange glow? It is clear as daylight, and yet the shortest day of the
year is at hand. There are no shadows, so it cannot be the moon. No;
it is one of the few really intense appearances of the aurora australis
that receives us now. It looks as though Nature wished to honour our
guests, and to show herself in her best attire. And it is a gorgeous
dress she has chosen. Perfectly calm, clear with a starry sparkle,
and not a sound in any direction. But wait: what is that? Like a
stream of fire the light shoots across the sky, and a whistling sound
follows the movement. Hush! can’t you hear? It shoots forward again,
takes the form of a band, and glows in rays of red and green. It
stands still for a moment, thinking of what direction it shall take,
and then away again, followed by an intermittent whistling sound. So
Nature has offered us on this wonderful morning one of her most
mysterious, most incomprehensible, phenomena — the audible southern
light. “Now you will be able to go home and tell your friends that you
have personally seen and heard the southern lights, for I suppose you
have no doubt that you have really done so?” “Doubt? How can one be in
doubt about what one has heard with one’s own ears and seen with one’s
own eyes? “And yet you have been deceived, like so many others! The
whistling northern and southern lights have never existed. They are
only a creation of your own yearning for the mystical, accompanied
by your own breath, which freezes in the cold air. Goodbye, beautiful
dream! It vanishes from the glorious landscape.” Perhaps it was stupid
of me to call attention to that; my guests have now lost much of the
beautiful mystery, and the landscape no longer has the same attraction.

Meanwhile we have come up past Nelson and Rцnniken, and are just
climbing the first ridge. Not far away a big tent rises before us,
and in front of it we see two long, dark lines. It is our main depot
that we are coming to, and you can see that we keep our things in good
order, case upon case, as if they had been placed in position by an
expert builder. And they all point the same way; all the numbers face
the north. “What made you choose that particular direction?” is the
natural question. “Had you any special object?” “Oh yes, we had. If
you will look towards the east, you will notice that on the horizon
the sky has a rather lighter, brighter colour there than in any other
part. That is the day as we see it now. At present we cannot see to
do anything by its light. It would have been impossible to see that
these cases were lying with their numbers to the north if it had not
been for the brilliant aurora australis. But that light colour will
rise and grow stronger. At nine o’clock it will be in the north-east,
and we shall be able to trace it ten degrees above the horizon. You
would not then think it gave so much light as it really does, but you
would be able without an effort to read the numbers. What is more, you
would be able to read the makers’ names which are marked on several
of the cases, and when the flush of daylight has moved to the north,
you will be able to see them even more clearly. No doubt these figures
and letters are big — about 2 inches high and 14 inches broad —
but it shows, nevertheless, that we have daylight here at the darkest
time of the year, so there is not the absolute darkness that people
think. The tent that stands behind there contains dried fish; we have a
great deal of that commodity, and our dogs can never suffer hunger. But
now we must hurry on, if we are to see how the day begins at Framheim.

“What we are passing now is the mark-flag. We have five of them
standing between the camp and the depot; they are useful on dark days,
when the east wind is blowing and the snow falling. And there on the
slope of the hill you see Framheim. At present it looks like a dark
shadow on the snow, although it is not far away. The sharp peaks you
see pointing to the sky are all our dog tents. The but itself you
cannot see; it is completely snowed under and hidden in the Barrier.

“But I see you are getting warm with walking. We will go a little more
slowly, so that you won’t perspire too much. It is not more than -51°,
so you have every reason to be warm walking. With that temperature
and calm weather like to-day one soon feels warm if one moves about
a little …. The flat place we have now come down into is a sort
of basin; if you bend down and look round the horizon, you will
be able with an effort to follow the ridges and hummocks the whole
way round. Our house lies on the slope we are now approaching. We
chose that particular spot, as we thought it would offer the best
protection, and it turned out that we were right. The wind we have had
has nearly always come from the east, when there was any strength in
it, and against such winds the slope provides an excellent shelter. If
we had placed our house over there where the depot stands, we should
have felt the weather much more severely. But now you must be careful
when we come near to the house, so that the dogs don’t hear us. We
have now about a hundred and twenty of them, and if they once start
making a noise, then good-bye to the peaceful Polar morning. Now we
are there, and in such daylight as there is, you can see the immediate
surroundings. You can’t see the house, you say. No; I can quite believe
it. That chimney sticking out of the snow is all there is left above
the Barrier. This trap-door we are coming to you might take for a loose
piece of boarding thrown out on the snow, but that is not the case:
it is the way down into our home. You must stoop a bit when you go
down into the Barrier. Everything is on a reduced scale here in the
Polar regions; we can’t afford to be extravagant. Now you have four
steps down; take care, they are rather high. Luckily we have come
in time to see the day started. I see the passage-lamp is not yet
lighted, so Lindstrцm has not turned out. Take hold of the tail of
my anorak and follow me. This is a passage in the snow that we are
in, leading to the pent-house. Oh! I’m so sorry; you must forgive
me! Did you hurt yourself? I quite forgot to tell you to look out
for the threshold of the pent-house door. It is not the first time
someone has fallen over it. That’s a trap we have all fallen into;
but now we know it, and it doesn’t catch us any more.

“If you will wait a second I’ll strike a match, and then we shall
see our way. Here we are in the kitchen. Now make yourself invisible
and follow me all day, and you will see what our life is like. As you
know, it is St. John’s Eve, so we shall only work during the forenoon;
but you will be able to see how we spend a holiday evening. When you
send your account home, you must promise me not to paint it in too
strong colours. Good-bye for the present.”

Br-r-r-r-r-r! There’s the alarm-clock. I wait and wait and wait. At
home I am always accustomed to hear that noise followed by the passage
of a pair of bare feet across the floor, and a yawn or so. Here —
not a sound. When Amundsen left me he forgot to say where I could best
put myself. I tried to follow him into the room, but the atmosphere
there — no thanks! I could easily guess that nine men were sleeping
in a room 19 feet by 13 feet; it did not require anyone to tell me
that. Still not a sound. I suppose they only keep that alarm-clock
to make themselves imagine they are turning out. Wait a minute,
though. “Lindtrom! Lindtrom!” He went by the name of Lindtrom, not
Lindstrцm. “Now, by Jove! you’ve got to get up! The clock’s made row
enough.” That’s Wisting; I know his voice — I know him at home. He
was always an early bird. A frightful crash! That’s Lindstrцm slipping
out of his bunk. But if he was late in turning out, it did not take
him long to get into his clothes. One! two! three! and there he
stood in the doorway, with a little lamp in his hand. It was now six
o’clock. He looked well; round and fat, as when I saw him last. He is
in dark blue clothes, with a knitted helmet over his head. I should
like to know why; it is certainly not cold in here. For that matter,
I have often felt it colder in kitchens at home in the winter, so that
cannot be the reason. Oh, I have it! He is bald, and doesn’t like to
show it. That is often the way with bald men; they hate anyone seeing
it. The first thing he does is to lay the fire. The range is under the
window, and takes up half the 6 feet by 13 feet kitchen. His method of
laying a fire is the first thing that attracts my attention. At home
we generally begin by splitting sticks and laying the wood in very
carefully. But Lindstrцm just shoves the wood in anyhow, all over
the place. Well, if he can make that barn, he’s clever. I am still
wondering how he will manage it, when he suddenly stoops down and picks
up a can. Without the slightest hesitation, as though it were the most
natural thing in the world, he pours paraffin over the wood. Not one
or two drops — oh no; he throws on enough to make sure. A match —
and then I understood how Lindstrцm got it to light. It was smartly
done, I must say — but Hassel ought to have seen it! Amundsen had
told me something of their arrangements on the way up, and I knew
Hassel was responsible for coal, wood, and oil.

The water-pot had been filled the evening before, and he had only to
push it to one side to make room for the kettle, and this did not take
long to boil with the heat he had set going. The fire burned up so that
it roared in the chimney — this fellow is not short of fuel. Strange,
what a hurry he is in to get that coffee ready! I thought breakfast was
at eight, and it is now not more than a quarter past six. He grinds the
coffee till his cheeks shake to and fro — incessantly. If the quality
is in proportion to the quantity, it must be good enough. “Devil take
it” — Lindstrцm’s morning greeting — “this coffee-mill is not worth
throwing to the pigs! Might just as well chew the beans. It wouldn’t
take so long.” And he is right; after a quarter of an hour’s hard
work he has only ground just enough. Now it is half-past six. On with
the coffee! Ah, what a perfume! I would give something to know where
Amundsen got it from. Meanwhile the cook has taken out his pipe,
and is smoking away gaily on an empty stomach; it does not seem to
do him any harm. Hullo! There’s the coffee boiling over.

While the coffee was boiling and Lindstrцm smoked, I was still
wondering why he was in such a hurry to get the coffee ready. You
ass! I thought; can’t you see? Of course, he is going to give himself
a drink of fresh, hot coffee before the others are up; that’s clear
enough. When the coffee was ready, I sat down on a camp-stool that
stood in a corner, and watched him. But I must say he surprised me
again. He pushed the coffee-kettle away from the fire and took down
a cup from the wall; then went to a jug that stood on the bench and
poured out — would you believe it? — a cup of cold tea! If he goes on
in this way, we shall have surprises enough before evening, I thought
to myself. Then he began to be deeply interested in an enamelled iron
bowl, which stood on a shelf above the range. The heat, which was
now intense (I looked at the thermograph which hung from the ceiling;
it registered 84°F.), did not seem to be sufficient for its mysterious
contents. It was also wrapped up in towels and cloths, and gave me the
impression of having caught a severe cold. The glances he threw into it
from time to time were anxious; he looked at the clock, and seemed to
have something on his mind. Then suddenly I saw his face brighten; he
gave a long, not very melodious whistle, bent down, seized a dust-pan,
and hurried out into the pent-house. Now I was really excited. What was
coming next? He came back at once with a happy smile all over his face,
and the dust-pan full of — coal! If I had been curious before, I was
now anxious. I withdrew as far as possible from the range, sat down on
the floor itself, and fixed my eyes on the thermograph. As I thought,
the pen began to move upward with rapid steps. This was too bad. I made
up my mind to pay a visit to the Meteorological Institute as soon as
I got home, and tell them what I had seen with my own eyes. But now
the heat seemed intolerable down on the floor, where I was sitting;
what must it be like — heavens above, the man was sitting on the
stove! He must have gone out of his mind. I was just going to give
a cry of terror, when the door opened, and in came Amundsen from
the room. I gave a deep sigh. Now it would be all right the time
was ten minutes past seven. “‘Morning, Fatty!” — “‘Morning.” —
“What’s it like outside?” — “Easterly breeze and thick when I was
out; but that’s a good while ago.” This fairly took my breath away He
stood there with the coolest air in the world and talked about the
weather, and I could take my oath he had not been outside the door
that morning. “How’s it getting on to-day — is it coming?” Amundsen
looks with interest at the mysterious bowl. Lindstrцm takes another
peep under the cloth. “Yes, it’s coming at last; but I’ve had to give
it a lot to-day.” — ” Yes, it feels like it,” answers the other,
and goes out. My interest is now divided between “it ” in the bowl
and Amundsen’s return, with the meteorological discussion that will
ensue. It is not long before he reappears; evidently the temperature
outside is not inviting. “Let’s hear again, my friend ” — he seats
himself on the camp-stool beside which I am sitting on the floor —
“what kind of weather did you say it was?” I prick up my ears;
there is going to be fun. “It was an easterly breeze and thick as
a wall, when I was out at six o’clock.” — “Hm! then it has cleared
remarkably quickly. It’s a dead calm now, and quite clear.” — “Ah,
that’s just what I should have thought! I could see it was falling
light, and it was getting brighter in the east.” He got out of that
well. Meanwhile it was again the turn of the bowl. It was taken down
from the shelf over the range and put on the bench; the various cloths
were removed one by one until it was left perfectly bare. I could
not resist any longer; I had to get up and look. And indeed it was
worth looking at. The bowl was filled to the brim with golden-yellow
dough, full of air-bubbles, and showing every sign that he had got
it to rise. Now I began to respect Lindstrцm; he was a devil of a
fellow. No confectioner in our native latitudes could have shown a
finer dough. It was now 7.25; everything seems to go by the clock here.

Lindstrцm threw a last tender glance at his bowl, picked up a little
bottle of spirit, and went into the next room. I saw my chance of
following him in. There was not going to be any fun out there with
Amundsen, who was sitting on the camp-stool half asleep. In the other
room it was pitch-dark, and an atmosphere — no, ten atmospheres at
least! I stood still in the doorway and breathed heavily. Lindstrцm
stumbled forward in the darkness, felt for and found the matches. He
struck one, and lighted a spirit-holder that hung beneath a hanging
lamp. There was not much to be seen by the light of the spirit flame;
one could still only guess. Hear too, perhaps. They were sound
sleepers, those boys. One grunted here and another there; they were
snoring in every corner. The spirit might have been burning for a
couple of minutes, when Lindstrцm had to set to work in a hurry. He was
off just as the flame went out, leaving the room in black darkness. I
heard the spirit bottle and the nearest stool upset, and what followed
I don’t know, as I was unfamiliar with the surroundings — but there
was a good deal of it. I heard a click — had no idea what it was
— and then the same movement back again to the lamp. Of course,
he now fell over the stool he had upset before. Meanwhile there was
a hissing sound, and a stifling smell of paraffin. I was thinking of
making my escape through the door, when suddenly, just as I suppose
it happened on the first day of Creation, in an instant there was
light. But it was a light that defies description; it dazzled and
hurt the eyes, it was so bright. It was perfectly white and extremely
agreeable — when one was not looking at it. Evidently it was one of
the 200-candle Lux lamps. My admiration for Lindstrцm had now risen
to enthusiasm. What would I not have given to be able to make myself
visible, embrace him, and tell him what I thought of him! But that
could not be; I should not then be able to see life at Framheim as it
really was. So I stood still. Lindstrцm first tried to put straight
what he had upset in his struggle with the lamp. The spirit had, of
course, run out of the bottle when it fell, and was now flowing all
over the table. This did not seem to make the slightest impression
on him; a little scoop with his hand, and it all landed on Johansen’s
clothes, which were lying close by. This fellow seemed to be as well
off for spirit as for paraffin. Then he vanished into the kitchen, but
reappeared immediately with plates, cups, knives and forks. Lindstrцm’s
laying of the breakfast-table was the finest clattering performance
I have ever heard. If he wanted to put a spoon into a cup, he did not
do it in the ordinary way; no, he put down the cup, lifted the spoon
high in the air, and then dropped it into the cup. The noise he made
in this way was infernal. Now I began to see why Amundsen had got
up so early; he wanted to escape this process of laying the table,
I expect. But this gave me at once an insight into the good-humour of
the gentlemen in bed: if this had happened anywhere else, Lindstrцm
would have had a boot at his head. But here — they must have been
the most peaceable men in the world.

Meanwhile I had had time to look around me. Close to the door where I
was standing a pipe came down to the floor. It struck me at once that
this was a ventilating-pipe. I bent down and put my hand over the
opening; there was not so much as a hint of air to be felt. So this
was the cause of the bad atmosphere. The next things that caught my
eye were the bunks — nine of them: three on the right hand and six
on the left. Most of the sleepers — if they could be regarded as such
while the table was being laid — slept in bags — sleeping-bags. They
must have been warm enough. The rest of the space was taken up by
a long table, with small stools on two sides of it. Order appeared
to reign; most of the clothes were hung up. Of course, a few lay on
the floor, but then Lindstrцm had been running about in the dark,
and perhaps he had pulled them down. On the table, by the window,
stood a gramophone and some tobacco-boxes and ash-trays. The furniture
was not plentiful, nor was it in the style of Louis Quinze or Louis
Seize, but it was sufficient. On the wall with the window hung a few
paintings, and on the other portraits of the King, Queen, and Crown
Prince Olav, apparently cut out of an illustrated paper, and pasted
on blue cardboard. In the corner nearest the door on the right,
where there was no bunk, the space seem to be occupied by clothes,
some hanging on the wall, some on lines stretched across. So that was
the drying-place, modest in its simplicity. Under the table were some
varnished boxes — Heaven knows what they were for!

Now there seemed to be life in one of the bunks. It was Wisting,
who was getting tired of the noise that still continued. Lindstrцm
took his time, rattling the spoons, smiling maliciously to himself,
and looking up at the bunks. He did not make all this racket for
nothing. Wisting, then, was the first to respond, and apparently the
only one; at any rate, there was not a sign of movement in any of the
others. “Good-morning, Fatty!” “Thought you were going to stop there
till dinner.” This is Lindstrцm’s greeting. “Look after yourself, old
‘un. If I hadn’t got you out, you’d have been asleep still.” That was
paying him in his own coin: Wisting was evidently not to be trifled
with. However, they smiled and nodded to each other in a way that
showed that there was no harm meant. At last Lindstrцm had got rid
of the last cup, and brought down the curtain on that act with the
dropping of the final spoon. I thought now that he would go back to his
work in the kitchen; but it looked as if he had something else to do
first. He straightened himself, thrust his chin in the air and put his
head back — reminding me very forcibly of a young cockerel preparing
to crow — and roared with the full force of his lungs: “Turn out,
boys, and look sharp!” Now he had finished his morning duty there. The
sleeping-bags seemed suddenly to awake to life, and such remarks as,
“That’s a devil of a fellow!” or “Shut up, you old chatterbox!” showed
that the inhabitants of Framheim were now awake. Beaming with joy,
the cause of the trouble disappeared into the kitchen.

And now, one after the other they stick their heads out, followed by
the rest of them. That must be Helmer Hanssen, who was on the Gjцa;
he looks as if he could handle a rope. Ah, and there we have Olav
Olavson Bjaaland! I could have cried aloud for joy — my old friend
from Holmenkollen. The great long-distance runner, you remember. And
he managed the jump, too — 50 metres, I think — standing. If Amundsen
has a few like him, he will get to the Pole all right. And there comes
Stubberud, the man the Aftenpost said was so clever at double-entry
book-keeping. As I see him now, he does not give me the impression
of being a book-keeper — but one can’t tell. And here come Hassel,
Johansen, and Prestrud; now they are all up, and will soon begin the
day’s work.

“Stubberud!” It is Lindstrцm putting his head in at the door. “If
you want any hot cakes, you must get some air down.” Stubberud merely
smiles; he looks as if he felt sure of getting them, all the same. What
was it he talked about? Hot cakes? They must be connected with the
beautiful dough and the delicate, seductive smell of cooking that is
now penetrating through the crack of the door. Stubberud is going,
and I must go with him. Yes, as I thought — there stands Lindstrцm
in all his glory before the range, brandishing the weapon with which
he turns the cakes; and in a pan lie three brownish-yellow buckwheat
cakes quivering with the heat of the fire. Heavens, how hungry it
made me! I take up my old position, so as not to be in anyone’s
way, and watch Lindstrцm. He’s the man — he produces hot cakes with
astonishing dexterity; it almost reminds one of a juggler throwing up
balls, so rapid and regular is the process. The way he manipulates
the cake-slice shows a fabulous proficiency. With the skimmer in
one hand he dumps fresh dough into the pan, and with the cake-slice
in the other he removes those that are done, all at the same time;
it seems almost more than human!

There comes Wisting, salutes, and holds out a little tin mug. Flattered
by the honour, the cook fills his mug with boiling water, and he
disappears into the pent-house. But this interruption puts Lindstrцm
off his jugglery with the hot cakes-one of them rolls down on to the
floor. This fellow is extraordinarily phlegmatic; I can’t make out
whether he missed that cake or not. I believe the sigh that escaped
him at the same instant meant something like: “Well, we must leave
some for the dogs.”

And now they all come in single file with their little mugs, and get
each a drop of boiling water. I get up, interested in this proceeding,
and slip out with one of them into the pent-house and so on to the
Barrier. You will hardly believe me, when I tell you what I saw — all
the Polar explorers standing in a row, brushing their teeth! What do
you say to that? So they are not such absolute pigs, after all. There
was a scent of Stomatol everywhere.

Here comes Amundsen. He has evidently been out taking the
meteorological observations, as he holds the anemometer in one hand. I
follow him through the passage, and, when no one is looking, take the
opportunity of slapping him on the shoulder and saying “A grand lot
of boys.” He only smiled; but a smile may often say more than many
words. I understood what it meant; he had known that a long while
and a good deal more.

It was now eight o’clock. The door from the kitchen to the room was
left wide open, and the warmth streamed in and mixed with the fresh
air that Stubberud had now forced to come down the right way. Now
it was pleasanter inside — fresh, warm air everywhere. Then came
a very interesting scene. As the tooth-brushing gentlemen returned,
they had to guess the temperature, one by one. This gave occasion for
much joking and fun, and, amid laughter and chat, the first meal of the
day was taken. In after-dinner speeches, amid toasts and enthusiasm,
our Polar explorers are often compared with our forefathers, the bold
vikings. This comparison never occurred to me for a moment when I saw
this assemblage of ordinary, everyday men-brushing their teeth. But
now that they were busy with the dishes, I was bound to acknowledge
its aptitude; for our forefathers the vikings could not possibly have
attacked their food with greater energy than these nine men did.

One pile of “hot-chek” after another disappeared as if they had been
made of air — and I, in my simplicity, had imagined that one of them
was a man’s ration! Spread with butter and surmounted with jam, these
cakes slipped down with fabulous rapidity. With a smile I thought
of the conjurer, holding an egg in his hand one minute and making
it disappear the next. If it is a cook’s best reward to see his food
appreciated, then, indeed, Lindstrцm had good wages. The cakes were
washed down with big bowls of strong, aromatic coffee. One could
soon trace the effect, and conversation became general. The first
great subject was a novel, which was obviously very popular, and was
called “The Rome Express.” It appeared to me, from what was said —
I have unfortunately never read this celebrated work — that a murder
had been committed in this train, and a lively discussion arose as
to who had committed it. I believe the general verdict was one of
suicide. I have always supposed that subjects of conversation must
be very difficult to find on expeditions like these, where the same
people mix day after day for years; but there was certainly no sign
of any such difficulty here. No sooner had the express vanished in
the distance than in steamed — the language question. And it came
at full steam, too. It was clear that there were adherents of both
camps present. For fear of hurting the feelings of either party, I
shall abstain from setting down what I heard: but I may say as much
as this — that the party of reform ended by declaring the maal[6] to
be the only proper speech of Norway, while their opponents maintained
the same of their language.

After a while pipes came out, and the scent of “plug” soon struggled
with the fresh air for supremacy. Over the tobacco the work for
the day was discussed. “Well, I’ll have enough to do supplying that
woodswallower over the holiday,” said Hassel. I gave a chuckle. If
Hassel had known of the way the paraffin was used that morning,
he would have added something about the “oil-drinker,” I expect. It
was now half-past eight, and Stubberud and Bjaaland got up. From the
number of different garments they took out and put on, I guessed they
were going out. Without saying anything, they trudged out. Meanwhile
the others continued their morning smoke, and some even began to
read, but by about nine they were all on the move. They put on their
skin clothing and made ready to go out. By this time Bjaaland and
Stubberud had returned from a walk, as I understood from such remarks
as “Beastly cold,” “Sharp snow by the depot,” and the like. Prestrud
was the only one who did not get ready to go out; he went to an open
space underneath the farthest bunk, where there was a box. He raised
the lid of this, and three chronometers appeared; at the same moment
three of the men produced their watches, and a comparison was made
and entered in a book. After each watch had been compared, its owner
went outside, taking his watch with him. I took the opportunity of
slipping out with the last man — Prestrud and his chronometers were
too serious for me; I wanted to see what the others were about.

There was plenty of life outside; dogs’ howls in every key came
from the tents. Some of those who had left the house before us were
out of sight, so they had probably gone to their respective tents,
and presently one could see by the lights that they were in the act
of letting their dogs loose. How well the lighted-up tents looked
against the dark, star-strewn sky! Though it could no longer be
called dark: the little flush of dawn had spread and overpowered
the glow of the aurora australis, which had greatly decreased since
I last saw it; evidently it was near its end. Now the four-footed
band began to swarm out, darting like rockets from the tents. Here
were all colours-grey, black, red, brown, white, and a mixture of
all of them. What surprised me was that they were all so small; but
otherwise they looked splendid. Plump and round, well kept and groomed,
bursting with life. They instantly collected into little groups of
from two to five, and it was easy to see that these groups consisted
of intimate friends — they absolutely petted each other. In each
of these clusters there was one in particular who was made much of;
all the others came round him, licked him, fawned upon him, and gave
him every sign of deference.

They all run about without a sign of unfriendliness. Their chief
interest seems to be centred in two large black mounds that are visible
in the foreground of the camp; what they are I am unable to make out —
there is not light enough for that — but I am probably not far wrong
in guessing that they are seals. They are rather hard eating, anyhow,
for I can hear them crunching under the dogs’ teeth. Here there is an
occasional disturbance of the peace; they do not seem to agree so well
over their food, but there is never a regular battle. A watchman is
present, armed with a stick, and when he shows himself and makes his
voice heard, they soon separate. They appear to be well disciplined.

What appealed to me most was the youngsters and the youngest of
all. The young ones, to judge from their appearance, were about ten
months old. They were perfect in every way; one could see they had been
well cared for from their birth. Their coats were surprisingly thick —
much more so than those of the older dogs. They were remarkably plucky,
and would not give in to anyone.

And there are the smallest of all — like little balls of wool; they
roll themselves in the snow and have great fun. I am astonished that
they can stand the cold as they do; I should never have thought that
such young animals could live through the winter. Afterwards I was
told that they not only bore the cold well, but were far more hardy
than the older ones. While the grown-up dogs were glad to go into their
tents in the evening, the little ones refused to do so; they preferred
to sleep outside. And they did so for a great part of the winter.

Now all the men have finished unchaining their dogs, and, with
their lanterns in their hands, they move in various directions and
disappear — apparently into the Barrier surface. There will be many
interesting things to see here in the course of the day — I can
understand that. What on earth became of all these people? There we
have Amundsen; he is left alone, and appears to be in charge of the
dogs. I go up to him and make myself known.

“Ah, I’m glad you came,” he says; “now I can introduce you to some
of our celebrities. To begin with, here is the trio — Fix, Lasse,
and Snuppesen. They always behave like this when I am out — could
not think of leaving me in peace for an instant. Fix, that big grey
one that looks like a wolf, has many a snap on his conscience. His
first exploit was on Flekkerц, near Christiansand, where all the
dogs were kept for a month after they arrived from Greenland; there
he gave Lindstrцm a nasty bite when his back was turned. What do you
think of a bite of a mouth like that?”

Fix is now tame, and without a growl allows his master to take hold of
his upper and under jaws and open his mouth — ye gods, what teeth! I
inwardly rejoice that I was not in Lindstrцm’s trousers that day.

“If you notice,” he continues, with a smile, “you will see that
Lindstrцm still sits down cautiously. I myself have a mark on my left
calf, and a good many more of us have the same. There are several of
us who still treat him with respect. And here we have Lassesen —
that’s his pet name; he was christened Lasse — almost pure black,
as you see. I believe he was the wildest of the lot when they came
on board. I had him fastened up on the bridge with my other dogs,
beside Fix — those two were friends from their Greenland days. But
I can tell you that when I had to pass Lasse, I always judged the
distance first. As a rule, he just stood looking down at the deck
— exactly like a mad bull. If I tried to make overtures, he didn’t
move — stood quite still; but I could see how he drew back his upper
lip and showed a row of teeth, with which I had no desire to become
acquainted. A fortnight passed in this way. Then at last the upper
lip sank and the head was raised a little, as though he wanted to see
who it was that brought him food and water every day. But the way from
that to friendship was long and tortuous. In the time that followed,
I used to scratch him on the back with a stick; at first he jumped
round, seized the stick, and crushed it between his teeth. I thought
myself lucky that it was not my hand. I came a little nearer to him
every day, until one day I risked my hand. He gave me an ugly look,
but did nothing; and then came the beginning of our friendship. Day
by day we became better friends, and now you can see what footing we
are on. The third is Snuppesen, a dark red lady; she is their sworn
friend, and never leaves them. She is the quickest and most active
of our dogs. You can see that she is fond of me; she is generally on
her hind legs, and makes every effort to get at my face. I have tried
to get her out of the way of that, but in vain; she will have her own
way. I have no other animals for the moment that are worth showing —
unless you would care to hear a song. If so, there is Uranus, who is a
professional singer. We’ll take the trio with us, and you shall hear.”

We made for two black-and-white dogs that were lying by themselves
on the snow a little way off, while the three jumped and danced about
us. As we approached the other two, and they caught sight of the trio,
they both jumped up as though at a word of command, and I guessed that
we had found the singer. Lord save us, what an awful voice! I could
see that the concert was for Lasse’s benefit, and Uranus kept it up as
long as we stood in his vicinity. But then my attention was suddenly
aroused by the appearance of another trio, which made an extraordinary
favourable impression. I turned to my companion for information.

“Yes,” he continued, “those are three of Hanssen’s team; probably some
of our best animals. The big black-and-white one is called Zanko — he
appears to be rather old; the two others, which look like sausages with
matches underneath, are Ring and Mylius. As you see, they are not very
big, rather on the small side, but they are undoubtedly among our best
workers. From their looks we have concluded that they are brothers —
they are as like as two drops of water. Now we will go straight through
the mass and see whether we come across any more celebrities. There we
have Karenius, Sauen, Schwartz, and Lucy; they belong to Stubberud, and
are a power in the camp. Bjaaland’s tent is close by; his favourites
are lying there — Kvaen, Lap, Pan, Gorki, and Jaala. They are small,
all of them, but fine dogs. There, in the south-east corner, stands
Hassel’s tent, but we shall not see any of his dogs here now. They
are all lying outside the entrance to the oil-store, where he is
generally to be found. The next tent is Wisting’s. We must take a
turn round there and see if we can find his lot. There they are —
those four playing there. The big, reddish-brown one on the right is
the Colonel, our handsomest animal. His three companions are Suggen,
Arne, and Brun. I must tell you a little story about the Colonel when
he was on Flekkerц. He was perfectly wild then, and he broke loose
and jumped into the sea. He wasn’t discovered till he was half-way
between Flekkerц and the mainland, where he was probably going in
search of a joint of mutton. Wisting and Lindstrцm, who were then
in charge of the dogs, put off in a boat, and finally succeeded in
overtaking him, but they had a hard tussle before they managed to get
him on board. Afterwards Wisting had a swimming-race with the Colonel,
but I don’t remember what was the result. We can expect a great deal
of these dogs. There’s Johansen’s tent over in the corner; there is
not much to be said about his dogs. The most remarkable of them is
Camilla. She is an excellent mother, and brings up her children very
well; she usually has a whole army of them, too.

“Now I expect you have seen dogs enough, so, if you have no objection,
I will show you underground Framheim and what goes on there. I
may just as well add that we are proud of this work, and you will
probably find that we have a right to be. We’ll begin with Hassel,
as his department is nearest.”

We now went in the direction of the house, passed its western end,
and soon arrived at an erection that looked like a derrick. Underneath
it was a large trap-door. Where the three legs of the derrick met,
there was made fast a small block, and through the block ran a rope,
made fast at one end to the trap-door. A weight hung at the other end,
some feet above the surface of the snow.

“Now we are at Hassel’s,” said my companion. It was a good thing he
could not see me, for I must have looked rather foolish. At Hassel’s? I
said to myself. What in the world does the man mean? We were standing
on the bare Barrier.

“Do you hear that noise? That’s Hassel sawing wood.”

Now he bent down and raised the heavy trap-door easily with the help
of the weight. Broad steps of snow led down, deep down, into the
Barrier. We left the trap-door open, so as to have the benefit of
the little daylight there was. My host went first; I followed. After
descending four or five steps, we came to a doorway which was covered
with a woollen curtain. We pushed this aside. The sound that had
first reached me as a low rumbling now became sharper, and I could
plainly hear that it was caused by sawing. We went in. The room we
entered was long and narrow, cut out of the Barrier. On a solid shelf
of snow there lay barrel after barrel arranged in exemplary order;
if they were all full of paraffin, I began to understand Lindstrцm’s
extravagance in lighting his fire in the morning: here was paraffin
enough for several years. In the middle of the room a lantern was
hanging, an ordinary one with wire netting round the glass. In a
dark room it certainly would not have given much light, but in these
white surroundings it shone like the sun. A Primus lamp was burning on
the floor. The thermometer, which hung a little way from the Primus,
showed -5° F., so Hassel could hardly complain of the heat, but he
had to saw, so it did not matter. We approached Hassel. He looked
as if he had plenty to do, and was sawing away so that the sawdust
was flying. “‘Morning.” — “‘Morning.” The sawdust flew faster and
faster. “You seem to be busy to-day.” — “Oh yes!” — the saw was now
working with dangerous rapidity — “if I’m to get finished for the
holiday, I must hurry up.” — How’s the coal-supply getting on?” That
took effect. The saw stopped instantly, was raised, and put down by the
wall. I waited for the next step in suppressed excitement; something
hitherto undreamt of must be going to happen. Hassel looked round —
one can never be careful enough — approached my host, and whispered,
with every sign of caution “I did him out of twenty-five kilos last
week.” I breathed again; I had expected something much worse than
that. With a smile of satisfaction Hassel resumed his interrupted work,
and I believe nothing in the world would have stopped him again. The
last I saw as we returned through the doorway was Hassel surrounded
by a halo of sawdust.

We were back on the Barrier surface; a touch of the finger, and
the trap-door swung over and fell noiselessly into its place. I
could see that Hassel was capable of other things besides sawing
birchwood. Outside lay his team, guarding all his movements — Mikkel,
Rжven, Masmas, and Else. They all looked well. Now we were going to
see the others.

We went over to the entrance of the hut and raised the trap-door;
a dazzling light met my eyes. In the wall of the steps leading down
from the surface a recess had been cut to hold a wooden case lined with
bright tin; this contained a little lamp which produced this powerful
light. But it was the surroundings that made it so bright — ice and
snow everywhere. Now I could look about me for the first time; it had
been dark when I came in the morning. There was the snow-tunnel leading
to the pent-house; I could see that by the threshold that grinned
at me. But there, in the opposite direction, what was there? I could
see that the passage was continued, but where did it lead? Standing
in the bright light, it looked quite dark in the tunnel.

“Now we will go and see Bjaaland first.” With these words my companion
bent down, and set off through the dark passage. “Look there, in the
snow-wall — just under our feet — can you see the light?” By degrees
my eyes had accustomed themselves to the darkness of the tunnel, and
I could see a greenish light shining through the snow-wall where he
pointed. And now another noise fell on my ears — a monotonous sound —
coming from below.

“Look out for the steps!” Yes, he could be sure of that; I had come
one cropper that day, and it was enough. We once more descended into
the Barrier by broad, solid snow-steps covered with boards. Suddenly
a door was opened — a sliding-door in the snow-wall — and I stood
in Bjaaland’s and Stubberud’s premises. The place might be about 6
feet high, 15 feet long, and 7 feet wide. On the floor lay masses of
shavings, which made it warm and cosy. At one end stood a Primus lamp
with a large tin case over it, from which steam was issuing. “How
is it going?” — “All right. We’re just bending the runners. I’ve
made a rough estimate of the weight, and find I can bring it down
to 48 pounds.” This seemed to me almost incredible. Amundsen had
told me on the way up this morning of the heavy sledges they had
— 165 pounds each. And now Bjaaland was going to bring them down
to 48 pounds, less than a third of their original weight. In the
snow-walls of the room were fixed hooks and shelves, where the tools
were kept. Bjaaland’s carpenter’s bench was massive enough — cut
out in the snow and covered with boards. Along the opposite wall was
another planing-bench, equally massive, but somewhat shorter than the
first. This was evidently Stubberud’s place. He was not here to-day,
but I could see that he was engaged in planing down the sledge cases
and making them lighter. One of them was finished; I leaned forward
and looked at it. On the top, where a little round aluminium lid
was let in, was written: “Original weight, 9 kilos; reduced weight,
6 kilos.” I could understand what this saving of weight meant to men
who were going on such a journey as these had before them. One lamp
provided all the illumination, but it gave an excellent light. We
left Bjaaland. I felt sure that the sledging outfit was in the best
of hands.

We then made our way into the pent-house, and here we met Stubberud. He
was engaged in cleaning up and putting things straight for the
holiday. All the steam that came out of the kitchen, when the door
was opened, had condensed on the roof and walls in the form of rime
several inches thick, and Stubberud was now clearing this off with a
long broom. Everything was going to be shipshape for Midwinter Eve;
I could see that. We went in. Dinner was on, humming and boiling. The
kitchen floor was scrubbed clean, and the linoleum with which it was
covered shone gaily. It was the same in the living-room; everything
was cleaned. The linoleum on the floor and the American cloth on the
table were equally bright. The air was pure — absolutely pure. All
the bunks were made tidy, and the stools put in their places. There
was no one here.

“You have only seen a fraction of our underground palaces, but I
thought we would take a turn in the loft first and see what it is
like. Follow me.” We went out into the kitchen, and then up some steps
fastened in the wall, and through the trap-door to the loft. With the
help of a little electric lamp, we were able to look about us. The
first thing that met my eyes was the library. There stood the Framheim
library, and it made the same good impression as everything else —
books numbered from 1 to 80 in three shelves. The catalogue lay by the
side of them, and I cast my eye over it. Here were books to suit all
tastes; “Librarian, Adolf Henrik Lindstrцm,” I read at the end. So
he was librarian, too-truly a many-sided man. Long rows of cases
stood here, full of whortleberry jam, cranberries, syrup, cream,
sugar, and pickles. In one corner I saw every sign of a dark-room;
a curtain was hung up to keep the light off, and there was an array
of developing-dishes, measuring-glasses, etc. This loft was made good
use of. We had now seen everything, and descended again to continue
our inspection.

Just as we reached the pent-house, Lindstrцm came in with a big bucket
of ice; I understood that it was to be used in the manufacture of
water. My companion had armed himself with a large and powerful
lantern, and I saw that we were going to begin our underground
travels. In the north wall of the pent-house there was a door, and
through this we went, entering a passage built against the house, and
dark as the grave. The lantern had lost its power of illumination;
it burned with a dull, dead light, which did not seem to penetrate
beyond the glass. I stretched my hands in front of me. My host stopped
and gave me a lecture on the wonderful order and tidiness they had
succeeded in establishing among them. I was a willing listener, for
I had already seen enough to be able to certify the truth of what he
told me without hesitation. But in the place we were now in, I had
to take his word for it, for it was all as black as bilge-water. We
had just started to move on again, and I felt so secure, after
all he had told me about the orderly way things were kept, that I
let go my guide’s anorak, which I had been holding. But that was
foolish of me. Smack! I went down at full length. I had trodden
on something round — something that brought me down. As I fell,
I caught hold of something — also round — and I lay convulsively
clutching it. I wanted to convince myself of what it was that lay
about on the floor of such a tidy house. The glimmer of the lantern,
though not particularly strong, was enough to show me what I held
in my arms — a Dutch cheese! I put it back in the same place —
for the sake of tidiness — sat up, and looked down at my feet. What
was it I had stumbled over? A Dutch cheese — if it wasn’t another
of the same family! I began to form my own opinion of the tidiness
now, but said nothing. But I should like to know why he didn’t fall
over the cheeses, as he was walking in front. Oh, I answered myself,
I guess he knew what sort of order the place was in.

At the eastern end of the house the passage was brilliantly lighted
up by the window that looked out on this side; I could now see
more clearly where I was. Opposite the window, in the part of the
Barrier that here formed the other wall of the passage, a great hole
had been dug; nothing was to be seen in it but black darkness. My
companion knew his way, so I could rely upon him, but I should have
hesitated to go in there alone. The hole extended into the Barrier,
and finally formed a fairly large room with a vaulted roof. A spade
and an axe on the floor were all I saw. What in the world was this
hall used for? “You see, all the ice and snow from here has gone to
our water-supply.” So this was Lindstrцm’s quarry, from which he
had hewn out ice and snow all these months for cooking, drinking,
and washing. In one of the walls, close to the floor, there was a
little hole just big enough for a man to crawl through.

“Now you must make yourself small and follow me; we are going to visit
Hanssen and Wisting.” And my companion disappeared like a snake into
the hole. I threw myself down, quick as lightning, and followed. I
would not have cared to be left alone there in pitch-darkness. I
managed to get hold of one of his calves, and did not let go until
I saw light on the other side. The passage we crept through was
equally narrow all the way, and forced one to crawl on hands and
knees; fortunately, it was not long. It ended in a fairly large,
square room. A low table stood in the middle of the floor, and on
it Helmer Hanssen was engaged in lashing sledges. The room gave
one the impression of being badly lighted, though it had a lamp and
candles. On a closer examination, I found that this was due to the
number of dark objects the place contained. Against one of the walls
there was clothing — immense piles of skin — clothing. Over this
were spread blankets to protect it from the rime that was formed on
the roof and fell down. Against the opposite wall was a stack of
sledges, and at the end, opposite the door, were piles of woollen
underclothing. Any outfitter in Christiania might have envied this
stock; here one saw Iceland jackets, sweaters, underclothes of immense
thickness and dimensions, stockings, mits, etc. In the corner formed
by this wall and the one where the sledges stood was the little hole
by which we had entered. Beyond the sledges, in the same wall, there
was a door with a curtain in front of it, and from within it came a
strange humming. I was much interested to know what this might be,
but had to hear first what these two had to say.

“What do you think of the lashings now, Hanssen?”

“Oh, they’ll hold right enough; at any rate, they’ll be better than
they were before. Look here, how they’ve pointed the ends!”

I leaned forward to see what was wrong with the sledge-lashings, and,
I must say, what I saw surprised me. Is such a thing possible? The
pointing of a lashing is a thing a sailor is very careful about. He
knows that if the end is badly pointed, it does not matter how well the
lashing is put on; therefore it is an invariable rule that lashings
must be pointed as carefully as possible. When I looked at this one,
what do you think I saw? Why, the end of the lashing was nailed down
with a little tack, such as one would use to fasten labels. “That
would be a nice thing to take to the Pole!” This final observation
of Hanssen’s was doubtless the mildest expression of what he thought
of the work. I saw how the new lashings were being put on, and I was
quite ready to agree with Hanssen that they would do the work. It was,
by the way, no easy job, this lashing at -15°F., as the thermometer
showed, but Hanssen did not seem to mind it.

I had heard that Wisting also took part in this work, but he was
not to be seen. Where could he be? My eyes involuntarily sought the
curtain, behind which the humming sound was audible. I was now ready
to burst with curiosity. At last the lashing question appears to be
thrashed out, and my companion shows signs of moving on. He leaves
his lantern and goes up to the curtain. “Wisting!” — “Yes!” The
answer seems to come from a far distance. The humming ceases, and the
curtain is thrust aside. Then I am confronted by the sight that has
impressed me most of all on this eventful day. There sits Wisting, in
the middle of the Barrier, working a sewing-machine. The temperature
outside is now -60°F. This seems to me to require some explanation;
I slink through the opening to get a closer view. Then — ugh! I am
met by a regular tropical blast. I glance at the thermometer; it shows
+50° F. But how can this be? Here he is, sewing in an ice-cellar at
+50°. I was told in my school-days that ice melts at about +32°. If
the same law is still in operation, he ought to be sitting in a
shower-bath. I go right in; the sewing-room is not large, about 6 feet
each way. Besides the sewing-machine — a modern treadle-machine —
the room contains a number of instruments, compasses, and so forth,
besides the large tent he is now working on. But what interests me
most is the way in which he circumvents the shower-bath. I see it now;
it is very cleverly contrived. He has covered the roof and walls with
tin and canvas, so arranged that all the melting ice goes the same
way, and runs into a wash-tub that stands below. In this manner he
collects washing water, which is such a precious commodity in these
regions — wily man! I afterwards hear that nearly all the outfit
for the Polar journey is being made in this little ice-cabin. Well,
with men like these I don’t think Amundsen will deserve any credit
for reaching the Pole. He ought to be thrashed if he doesn’t.

Now we have finished here, and must in all probability have seen
everything. My guide goes over to the wall where the clothing is lying
and begins to rummage in it. A clothing inspection, I say to myself;
there’s no great fun in that. I sit down on the pile of sledges by
the opposite wall, and am going over in my mind all I have seen,
when suddenly he thrusts his head forward — like a man who is going
to make a dive — and disappears among the bundles of skins. I jump
up and make for the piles of clothing; I am beginning to feel quite
lost in this mysterious world. In my hurry I collide with Hanssen’s
sledge, which falls off the table; he looks round furiously. It is a
good thing he could not see me; he looked like murder. I squeeze in
between the bundles of clothing, and what do I see? Another hole in
the wall; another low, dark passage. I pluck up courage and plunge
in. This tunnel is rather higher than the other, and I can walk,
bending double. Fortunately, the light at the other end shows up at
once, so that my journey in the dark is not a long one this time. I
come out into another large room of about the same size as the last,
and afterwards learn that it is known as the Crystal Palace. The name
is appropriate, as crystals sparkle on every side. Against one wall
a number of pairs of ski are resting; elsewhere there are cases,
some yellow and some black. I guess the meaning of this at once,
after my visit to Stubberud. The yellow cases are the original ones,
and the black the improved ones. They think of everything here. Of
course, in snow black is a far better colour than light yellow; the
cases will be pleasanter to look at, and very much easier to see at
a distance. And if they happen to run short of marks, all they need
do will be to break up a case and make as many black marks as they
want; they will be easily seen in the snow. The lids of these cases
surprise me. They are no bigger than ordinary large milk-can lids,
and of the same form; they are loose, as with a milk-can, and are
put on in the same way. Then it suddenly occurs to me. When I was
sitting on the sledges in Hanssen’s workshop, I noticed little pieces
of wire rope fixed to both ribs of the sledge. There were eight of
them on each side — just the right number. They are lashings for
four cases, and they will hardly take more than that on a sledge. On
one rib all the wire ropes ended in eyes; on the other they ended in
thin lashings. Obviously there were four of them to each case — two
forward and two aft of the lid. If these were reeved and drawn taut,
the cases would be held as in a vice, and the lids could be taken
off freely at any time. It was an ingenious idea, which would save
a lot of work.

But there sits Johansen in the middle of the Palace, packing. He
seems to have a difficult problem to solve; he looks so profoundly
thoughtful. Before him is a case half packed, marked “Sledge No. V.,
Case No. 4.” More singular contents I have never seen — a mixture
of pemmican and sausage. I have never heard of sausages on a sledge
journey; it must be something quite new. The pieces of pemmican
are cylindrical in shape, about 2 inches high and 4 and 3/4 inches
in diameter; when they are packed, there will be large star-shaped
openings between every four of them. Each of these openings is filled
up with a sausage, which stands straight up and down, and is of
exactly the height of the case. But sausage — let me see. Ah! there’s
a sausage with a tear in its skin; I run across and look at it. Oh,
the cunning rascals! if it isn’t milk-powder they are smuggling in
like this! So every bit of space is utilized. The gaps left by these
round pieces of pemmican at the sides of the cases are, of course,
only half as large as the rest, and so cannot take a milk-sausage; but
don’t imagine that the space is wasted. No; chocolate is broken up into
small pieces and stowed in there. When all these cases are packed,
they will be as full as if they were of solid wood. There is one
ready packed; I must see what it contains. Biscuits — 5,400 biscuits
is marked on the lid. They say that angels are specially gifted with
patience, but theirs must be a trifle compared with Johansen’s. There
was absolutely not a fraction of an inch left in that case.

The Crystal Palace at present reminds one strongly of a grocer’s and
chandler’s store — pemmican, biscuits, chocolate, and milk-sausage,
lie about everywhere. In the other wall, opposite the ski, there is
an opening. I see my companion making for it, but this time I intend
to keep an eye on him. He goes up two steps, pushes a trap-door,
and there he stands on the Barrier — but I am there, too. The
trap-door is replaced, and I see that we are close to another door
in the Barrier, but this is a modern sliding-door. It leads into
the clothing store. I turn to my host and give him my best thanks
for the interesting circular trip through the Barrier, expressing
my admiration of all the fine engineering works I have seen, and
so on. He cuts me short with the remark that we are not nearly done
yet. He has only brought me up this way to save my having to crawl
back again. “We are going in now,” he adds, “to continue our journey
under the surface.” I see that there is no getting out of it, although
I am beginning to have enough of these underground passages. My host
seems to guess my thoughts, as he adds: “We must see them now when the
men are working. Afterwards they will not have the same interest.” I
see that he is right, pull myself together, and follow him.

But Fate wills it otherwise. As we come out on the Barrier, Hanssen
is standing there with his sledge and six fresh dogs harnessed. My
companion has just time to whisper to me, ” Jump on; I’ll wait here,”
when the sledge starts off at a terrific pace with me as a passenger,
unsuspected by Hanssen.

We went along so that the snow dashed over us. He had his dogs well
in hand, this fellow, I could see that; but they were a wild lot of
rascals he had to deal with. I heard the names of Hok and Togo in
particular; they seemed inclined for mischief. All of a sudden they
darted back on their companions under the traces, and got the whole
team in a tangle; but they were not able to do very much, as the
whip, which was wielded with great dexterity, constantly sang about
their ears. The two sausages I had noticed on the slope — Ring and
Mylius — were leaders; they, too, were full of pranks, but kept their
places. Hai and Rap were also in the team. Rap, whose ear was split,
would have liked very much to get his friend Hai to join in a little
fight with Hok and Togo, but for the whip. It swished to and fro,
in and out, among them without mercy, and made them behave like good
boys. After us, some yards behind, came Zanko. He seemed to be put
out because he had not been harnessed. Meanwhile we went at a gallop
up the hill to the depot, and the last flag was passed. There was a
marked difference in the daylight here now. It was eleven o’clock, and
the flush of dawn had risen a good way in the sky and was approaching
the north. The numbers and marks on the cases were easily visible.

Hanssen drew up smartly by the rows of cases and halted. We stepped
off the sledge. He stood still for a moment and looked round, then
turned the sledge over, with the runners in the air. I supposed he
did this to prevent the dogs making off when his back was turned;
personally, I thought it was a poor safeguard. I jumped up on a case,
and sat there to await what developments might come. And they came in
the form of Zanko. Hanssen had moved off a little way with a piece
of paper in his hand, and seemed to be examining the cases as he
went along. Zanko had now reached his friends, Ring and Mylius,
and the meeting was a very cordial one on both sides. This was
too much for Hok; he was on to them like a rocket, followed by his
friend Togo. Hai and Rap never let such an opportunity escape them,
and they eagerly flung themselves into the thick of the fight. “Stop
that, you blackguards!” It was Hanssen who threw this admonition in
advance, as he came rushing back. Zanko, who was free, had kept his
head sufficiently to observe the approaching danger; without much
hesitation, he cut away and made for Framheim with all possible
speed. Whether the others missed their sixth combatant, or whether
they, too, became aware of Hanssen’s threatening approach, I am unable
to determine; certain it is that they all got clear of each other,
as though at a given signal, and made off the same way. The capsized
sledge made no difference to them; they went like the wind over the
slope, and disappeared by the flagstaff. Hanssen did not take long to
make up his mind, but what was the use? He went as fast as he could,
no doubt, but had reached no farther than to the flagstaff, when the
dogs, with the capsized sledge behind them, ran into Framheim and
were stopped there.

I went quietly back, well pleased with the additional experience. Down
on the level I met Hanssen on his way to the depot a second time;
he looked extremely angry, and the way in which he used the whip
did not promise well for the dogs’ backs. Zanko was now harnessed in
the team. On my return to Framheim I saw no one, so I slipped into
the pent-house, and waited for an opportunity of getting into the
kitchen. This was not long in coming. Puffing and gasping like a small
locomotive, Lindstrцm swung in from the passage that led round the
house. In his arms he again carried the big bucket full of ice, and an
electric lamp hung from his mouth. In order to open the kitchen-door,
he had only to give it a push with his knee; I slipped in. The house
was empty. Now, I thought, I shall have a good chance of seeing what
Lindstrцm does when he is left alone. He put down the bucket of ice,
and gradually filled up the water-pot which was on the fire. Then he
looked at the clock: a quarter-past eleven — good; dinner will be
ready in time. He drew a long, deep sigh, then went into the room,
filled and lit his pipe. Thereupon he sat down and took up a doll
that was sitting on a letter-weight. His whole face lighted up; one
could see how pleased he was. He wound up the doll and put it on
the table; as soon as he let it go, it began to turn somersaults,
one after another, endlessly. And Lindstrцm? Well, he laughed till
he must have been near convulsions, crying out all the while: “That’s
right, Olava; go it again!” I then looked at the doll carefully, and
it was certainly something out of the common. The head was that of an
old woman — evidently a disagreeable old maid — with yellow hair,
a hanging under-jaw, and a love-sick expression. She wore a dress of
red-and-white check, and when she turned head over heels it caused,
as might be expected, some disturbance of her costume. The figure,
one could see, had originally been an acrobat, but these ingenious
Polar explorers had transformed it into this hideous shape. When the
experiment was repeated, and I understood the situation, I could not
help roaring, too, but Lindstrцm was so deeply occupied that he did
not hear me. After amusing himself for about ten minutes with this,
he got tired of Olava, and put her up on the weight again. She sat
there nodding and bowing until she was forgotten.

Meanwhile Lindstrцm had gone to his bunk, and was lying half in
it. Now, I thought to myself, he is going to take a little nap before
dinner. But no; he came out again at once, holding a tattered old
pack of cards in his hand. He went back to his place, and began a
quiet and serious game of patience. It did not take long, and was
probably not very complicated, but it served its purpose. One could
see what a pleasure it was to him whenever a card came in its right
place. Finally, all the cards were in order; he had finished the
game. He sat a little while longer, enjoying the sight of the finished
packs; then he picked them all up with a sigh, and rose, mumbling:
“Yes, he’ll get to the Pole, that’s sure; and, what’s more, he’ll
get there first.” He put the cards back on the shelf in his bunk,
and looked well pleased with himself.

Then the process of laying the table began once more, but with far
less noise than in the morning; there was nobody to be annoyed by it
now. At five minutes to twelve a big ship’s bell was rung, and not
long after the diners began to arrive. They did not make any elaborate
toilet, but sat down to table at once. The dishes were not many:
a thick, black seal soup, with all manner of curious things in it —
seal meat cut into ” small dice” is no doubt the expression, but it
would be misleading here; “large dice” we had better call them —
with potatoes, carrots, cabbage, turnips, peas, celery, prunes, and
apples. I should like to know what our cooks at home would call that
dish. Two large jugs of syrup and water stood on the table. Now I had
another surprise; I was under the impression that a dinner like this
passed off in silence, but that was by no means the case here. They
talked the whole time, and the conversation chiefly turned on what
they had been doing during the forenoon. For dessert they had some
green plums. Pipes and books soon made their appearance.

By about two o’clock the boys gave fresh signs of life. I knew they
were not going to work that afternoon — St. Hans’ Eve — but habit
is a strange thing. Bjaaland rose in a peremptory fashion, and asked
who was going to have the first turn. After a lot of questions and
answers, it was decided that Hassel should be the first. What it was
I could not make out. I heard them talk about one or two Primuses,
and say that half an hour was the most one could stand, but that did
not mean anything to me. I should have to stick to Hassel; he was
going first. If there should be no second man, I should, at any rate,
have seen what the first one did. Everything became quiet again; it was
only in the kitchen that one could tell that the Barrier was inhabited.

At half-past two Bjaaland, who had been out, came in and announced
that now it was all a mass of steam. I watched Hassel anxiously. Yes;
this announcement seemed to put life into him. He got up and began
to undress. Very strange, I thought; what can this be? I tried the
Sherlock Holmes method — first Bjaaland goes out; that is fact number
one. Then he comes back; that I could also make sure of. So far the
method worked well. But then comes the third item “It is all a mass of
steam.” What in the world does that mean? The man has gone out — if
not out on to the Barrier, then certainly into it — into snow-ice, and
then he comes back and says that it is all a mass of steam. It seems
ridiculous — absurd. I send Sherlock Holmes to the deuce, and watch
Hassel with increasing excitement; if he takes any more off — I felt
I was blushing, and half turned my head, but there he stopped. Then
he picked up a towel, and away we went: out through the pent-house
door — it was all I could do to follow him — along the snow tunnel
in nothing but — Here steam really began to meet us, getting thicker
and thicker as we came into the Barrier. The tunnel became so full of
steam that I could see nothing. I thought with longing of the tail
of Amundsen’s anorak that was so useful on such occasions, but here
there was nothing to take hold of. Far away in the fog I could see a
light, and made my way to it with caution. Before I knew where I was,
I stood at the other end of the passage, which led into a large room,
covered with rime, and closed overhead by a mighty dome of ice. The
steam was troublesome, and spoilt my view of the room. But what had
become of Hassel? I could only see Bjaaland. Then suddenly the fog
seemed to clear for an instant, and I caught sight of a bare leg
disappearing into a big black box, and a moment later I saw Hassel’s
smiling face on the top of the box. A shudder passed through my frame
— he looked as if he had been decapitated. On further consideration,
his features were too smiling; the head could not be severed from the
body yet. Now the steam began to clear away little by little, and at
last one could see clearly what was going on. I had to laugh; it was
all very easy to understand now. But I think Sherlock Holmes would
have found it a hard-nut to crack if he had been set down blindfold
on the Antarctic Barrier, as I was, so to speak, and asked to explain
the situation. It was one of those folding American vapour-baths that
Hassel sat in. The bathroom, which had looked so spacious and elegant
in the fog, reduced itself to a little snow-hut of insignificant
appearance. The steam was now collected in the bath, and one could
see by the face above that it was beginning to be warm there. The last
thing I saw Bjaaland do was to pump two Primus lamps that were placed
just under the bath up to high pressure, and then disappear. What
a lesson an actor might have had in watching the face before me! It
began with such a pleasant expression — well-being was written upon
it in the brightest characters — then by degrees the smile wore off,
and gave place to seriousness. But this did not last long; there was
a trembling of the nostrils, and very soon it could clearly be seen
that the bath was no longer of a pleasant nature. The complexion,
from being normal, had changed to an ultra-violet tint; the eyes
opened wider and wider, and I was anxiously awaiting a catastrophe.

It came, but in a very different form from that I had
expected. Suddenly and noiselessly the bath was raised, and the steam
poured out, laying a soft white curtain over what followed. I could
see nothing; only heard that the two Primuses were turned down. I
think it took about five minutes for the steam to disappear, and
what did I see then? — Hassel, bright as a new shilling, dressed in
his best for St. Hans’ Eve. I availed myself of the opportunity to
examine the first, and probably the only, vapour-bath on the Antarctic
Barrier. It was, like everything else I had seen, very ingeniously
contrived. The bath was a high box without bottom, and with a hole,
large enough for the head, in the top. Ail the walls were double and
were made of windproof material, with about an inch between for the
air to circulate. This box stood on a platform, which was raised a
couple of feet above the snow surface. The box fitted into a groove,
and was thus absolutely tight. In the platform immediately under the
bath a rectangular opening was cut, lined round with rubber packing,
and into this opening a tin box fitted accurately. Under the tin box
stood two Primus lamps, and now everyone will be able to understand why
Hassel felt warm. A block hung from the top of the hut, with a rope
reeved in it; one end was made fast to the upper edge of the bath,
and the other went down into the bath. In this way the bather himself
could raise the bath without assistance, and free himself when the
heat became too great. The temperature outside the snow-wall was -65°
F. Cunning lads! I afterwards heard that Bjaaland and Hassel had
constructed this ingenious bath.

I now went back to the house, and saw how they all — almost — made
use of the vapour-bath. By a quarter-past five all the bathing was
concluded, and everyone put on his furs; it was evident that they
were going out. I followed the first man who left the hut; he was
provided with a lantern, and indeed it was wanted. The weather had
changed: a south-west wind had sprung up suddenly, and now the air
was thick with snow. It was not a fall of snow, for one could see
the stars in the zenith, but snow caught up by the wind and whirled
along. A man had to know the surroundings well to find his way now;
one had to feel — it was impossible to keep one’s eyes open. I took
up a position in lee of a snow-drift, and waited to see what would
happen. The dogs did not seem to be inconvenienced by the change of
weather; some of them lay curled up in a ring, with their nose under
their tail, on the snow, while others were running about. One by one
the men came out; each had a lantern in his hand. As they arrived at
the place where the dogs were, each was surrounded by his team, who
followed him to the tents with joyous howls. But everything did not
pass off peacefully; I heard — I think it was in Bjaaland’s tent —
a deafening noise going on, and looked in at the door. Down there,
deep below the surface, they were having a warm time. All the dogs
were mixed up together in one mass: some were biting, some shrieking,
some howling. In the midst of this mass of raging dogs I saw a human
figure swinging round, with a bunch of dog-collars in one hand, while
he dealt blows right and left with the other, and blessed the dogs all
the time. I thought of my calves and withdrew. But the human figure
that I had seen evidently won the mastery, as the noise gradually
subsided and all became quiet. As each man got his dogs tied up, he
went over to the meat-tent and took a box of cut-up seal meat, which
stood on the wall out of the dogs’ reach. This meat had been cut up
earlier in the day by two men. They took it in turns, I heard; two men
had this duty daily. The dogs were then fed, and half an hour after
this was done the camp again lay as I had found it in the morning,
quiet and peaceful. With a temperature of -65° F., and a velocity of
twenty-two miles an hour, the south-wester swept over the Barrier, and
whirled the snow high into the air above Framheim; but in their tents
the dogs lay, full-fed and contented, and felt nothing of the storm.

In the hut preparations for a feast were going on, and now one could
really appreciate a good house. The change from the howling wind,
the driving snow, the intense cold, and the absolute darkness,
was great indeed when one came in. Everything was newly washed,
and the table was gaily decorated. Small Norwegian flags were
everywhere, on the table and walls. The festival began at six, and
all the “vikings” came merrily in. Lindstrцm had done his best, and
that is not saying a little. I specially admired his powers and his
liberality — and I think, even in the short time I have observed him,
he has shown no sign of being stingy — when he appeared with the
“Napoleon” cakes. Now I must tell you that these cakes were served
after every man had put away a quarter of a plum-pudding. The cakes
were delightful to look at — the finest puff-pastry, with layers of
vanilla custard and cream. They made my mouth water. But the size of
them! — there could not be one of those mountains of cake to every
man? One among them all, perhaps — if they could be expected to eat
Napoleon cakes at all after plum-pudding. But why had he brought in
eight — two enormous dishes with four on each? Good heavens! —
one of the vikings had just started, and was making short work of
his mountain. And one after another they all walked into them, until
the whole eight had disappeared. I should have nothing to say about
hunger, misery, and cold, when I came hone. My head was going round;
the temperature must have been as many degrees above zero in here
as it was below zero outside. I looked up at Wisting’s bunk, where
a thermometer was hanging: +95° F. The vikings did not seem to take
the slightest notice of this trifle; their work with the “Napoleons”
continued undisturbed.

Soon the gorgeous cake was a thing of the past, and cigars came
out. Everyone, without exception, allowed himself this luxury. Up
to now they had not shown much sign of abstinence; I wanted to know
what was their attitude with regard to strong drinks. I had heard,
of course, that indulgence in alcohol on Polar expeditions was very
harmful, not to say dangerous. “Poor boys!” I thought to myself; “that
must be the reason of your fondness for cake. A man must have one vice,
at least. Deprived of the pleasure of drinking, they make up for it in
gluttony.” Yes, now I could see it quite plainly, and I was heartily
sorry for them. I wondered how the “Napoleons” felt now; they looked
rather depressed. No doubt the cake took some time to settle down.

Lindstrцm, who now seemed unquestionably the most wideawake of them
all, came in and began to clear the table. I expected to see every
man roll into his bunk to digest. But no; that side of the question
did not appear to trouble them much. They remained seated, as though
expecting more. Oh yes, of course; there was coffee to come. Lindstrцm
was already in the doorway with cups and jugs. A cup of coffee would
be just the thing after such a meal.

“Stubberud!” — this was Lindstrцm’s voice, calling from some
place in the far distance — “hurry up, before they get warm!” I
rushed after Stubberud to see what the things were that were not
to get warm; I thought it might possibly be something that was to
be taken outside. Great Heaven! there was Lindstrцm lying on his
stomach up in the loft, and handing down through the trap-door —
what do you think? — a bottle of Benedictine and a bottle of punch,
both white with frost! Now I could see that the fish were to swim —
what’s more, they were to be drowned. A happier smile than that with
which Stubberud received the bottles, or more careful and affectionate
handling than they received on their way through the kitchen, I have
never seen. I was touched. Ah, these boys knew how a liqueur should
be served! “Must be served cold,” was on the label of the punch
bottle. I can assure P. A. Larsen that his prescription was followed
to the letter that evening. Then the gramophone made its appearance,
and it did me good to see the delight with which it was received. They
seemed to like this best, after all, and every man had music to suit
his taste. All agreed to honour the cook for all his pains, and the
concert therefore began with “Tarara-boom-de-ay,” followed by the
“Apache” waltz. His part of the programme was concluded with a humorous
recitation. Meanwhile he stood in the doorway with a beatific smile;
this did him good. In this way the music went the round, and all
had their favourite tunes. Certain numbers were kept to the last; I
could see that they were to the taste of all. First came an air from
“The Huguenots,” sung by Michalowa; this showed the vikings to be
musical. It was beautifully sung. “But look here,” cried an impatient
voice: “aren’t we going to have Borghild Bryhn to-night?” “Yes,” was
the answer; “here she comes.” And Solveig’s Song followed. It was
a pity Borghild Bryhn was not there; I believe the most rapturous
applause would not have moved her so much as the way her song was
received here that evening. As the notes rang clear and pure through
the room, one could see the faces grow serious. No doubt the words of
the poem affected them all as they sat there in the dark winter night
on the vast wilderness of ice, thousands and thousands of miles from
all that was dear to them. I think that was so; but it was the lovely
melody, given with perfect finish and rich natural powers, that opened
their hearts. One could see how it did them good; it was as though
they were afraid of the sound of their own voices afterwards. At last
one of them could keep silence no longer. “My word, how beautifully
she sings!” he exclaimed; “especially the ending. I was a little bit
afraid that she would give the last note too sharp, in spite of the
masterly way in which she controls her voice. And it is outrageously
high, too. But instead of that, the note came so pure and soft and full
that it alone was enough to make a better man of one.” And then this
enthusiastic listener tells them how he once heard the same song,
but with a very different result. “It went quite well,” he says,
“until it came to the final note. Then you could see the singer fill
her mighty bosom for the effort, and out came a note so shrill that —
well, you remember the walls of Jericho.” After this the gramophone
is put away. No one seems to want any more.

Now it is already half-past eight, it must be nearly bed-time. The
feast has lasted long enough, with food, drink, and music. Then they
all get on their feet, and there is a cry of “Bow and arrows.” Now,
I say to myself, as I withdraw into the corner where the clothes
are hanging — now the alcohol is beginning to take effect. It is
evident that something extraordinarily interesting is going to take
place, as they are all so active. One of them goes behind the door
and fetches out a little cork target, and another brings out of his
bunk a box of darts. So it is dart-throwing — the children must be
amused. The target is hung up on the door of the kitchen leading
to the pent-house, and the man who is to throw first takes up his
position at the end of the table at a distance of three yards. And
now the shooting competition begins, amid laughter and noise. There
are marksmen of all kinds, good, bad, and indifferent. Here comes
the champion — one can see that by the determined way in which he
raises the dart and sends it flying; his will, no doubt, be the top
score. That is Stubberud; of the five darts he throws, two are in the
bull’s-eye and three close to it. The next is Johansen; he is not bad,
either, but does not equal the other’s score. Then comes Bjaaland; I
wonder whether he is as smart at this game as he is on ski? He places
himself at the end of the table, like the others, but takes a giant’s
stride forward. He is a leery one, this; now he is not more than a
yard and a half from the target. He throws well; the darts describe
a great round arch. This is what is known as throwing “with a high
trajectory,” and it is received with great applause. The trajectory
turns out to be too high, and all his darts land in the wall above
the door. Hassel throws with “calculation.” What he calculates it
is not easy to understand. Not on hitting the target, apparently;
but if his calculations have to do with the kitchen-door, then they
are more successful. Whether Amundsen “calculates” or not makes very
little difference; his are all misses in any case. Wisting’s form is
the same. Prestrud is about half-way between the good shots and the
bad. Hanssen throws like a professional, slinging his dart with great
force. He evidently thinks he is hunting walrus. All the scores are
carefully entered in a book, and prizes will be given later on.

Meanwhile Lindstrцm is playing patience; his day’s work is now
done. But, besides his cards, he is much interested in what is going
on round the target, and puts in a good word here and there. Then he
gets up with a determined look; he has one more duty to perform. This
consists of changing the light from the big lamp under the ceiling
to two small lamps, and the reason for the change is that the heat
of the big lamp would be too strongly felt in the upper bunks. This
operation is a gentle hint that the time has come for certain people to
turn in. The room looks dark now that the great sun under the ceiling
is extinguished; the two lamps that are now alight are good enough,
but one seems, nevertheless, to have made a retrograde step towards
the days of pine-wood torches.

By degrees, then, the vikings began to retire to rest. My description
of the day’s life at Framheim would be incomplete if I did not include
this scene in it. Lindstrцm’s chief pride, I had been told, was that
he was always the first man in bed; he would willingly sacrifice
a great deal to hold this record. As a rule, he had no difficulty
in fulfilling his desire, as nobody tried to be before him; but
this evening it was otherwise. Stubberud was far advanced with his
undressing when Lindstrцm came in, and, seeing a chance at last of
being “first in bed,” at once challenged the cook. Lindstrцm, who did
not quite grasp the situation, accepted the challenge, and then the
race began, and was followed by the others with great excitement. Now
Stubberud is ready, and is just going to jump into his bunk, which
is over Lindstrцm’s, when he suddenly feels himself clutched by the
leg and held back. Lindstrцm hangs on to the leg with all his force,
crying out, in the most pitiable voice: “Wait a bit, old man, till
I’m undressed too!” It reminded me rather of the man who was going to
fight, and called out: “Wait till I get a hold of you!” But the other
was not to be persuaded; he was determined to win. Then Lindstrцm let
go, tore off his braces — he had no time for more — and dived head
first into his bunk. Stubberud tried to protest; this was not fair,
he was not undressed, and so on.

“That doesn’t matter,” replied the fat man; “I was first, all the

The scene was followed with great amusement and shouts of
encouragement, and ended in a storm of applause when Lindstrцm
disappeared into his bunk with his clothes on. But that was not the
end of the business, for his leap into the bunk was followed by a
fearful crash, to which no one paid any attention in the excitement
of the moment, himself least of all. But now the consequences
appeared. The shelf along the side of his bunk, on which he kept a
large assortment of things, had fallen down, and filled the bunk with
rifles, ammunition, gramophone-discs, tool-boxes, sweetmeat-boxes,
pipes, tins of tobacco, ash-trays, boxes of matches, etc., and there
was no room left for the man himself. He had to get out again, and
his defeat was doubly hard. With shame he acknowledged Stubberud as
the victor; “but,” he added, “you shan’t be first another time.” One
by one the others turned in; books were produced — here and there a
pipe as well — and in this way the last hour was passed. At eleven
o’clock precisely the lamps were put out, and the day was at an end.

Soon after, my host goes to the door, and I follow him out. I had
told him I had to leave again this evening, and he is going to see me
off. “I’ll take you as far as the depot,” he says; “the rest of the way
you can manage by yourself.” The weather has improved considerably,
but it is dark — horribly dark. “So that we may find the way more
easily,” he says, “I’ll take my trio. If they don’t see the way,
they’ll smell it out.” Having let loose the three dogs, who evidently
wonder what the meaning of it may be, he puts a lantern on a stack of
timber — to show him the way back, I suppose — and we go off. The
dogs are evidently accustomed to go this way, for they set off at
once in the direction of the depot.

“Yes,” says my companion, “it’s not to be wondered at that they know
the way. They have gone it every day — once at least, often two or
three times — since we came here. There are three of us who always
take our daily walk in this direction — Bjaaland, Stubberud, and I. As
you saw this morning, those two went out at half-past eight. They did
that so as to be back to work at nine. We have so much to do that we
can’t afford to lose any time. So they take their walk to the depot
and back; at nine I generally do the same. The others began the winter
with the same good resolution; they were all so enthusiastic for a
morning walk. But the enthusiasm didn’t last long, and now we three
are the only enthusiasts left. But, short as the way is — about
650 yards — we should not venture to go without those marks that
you saw, and without our dogs. I have often hung out a lantern, too;
but when it is as cold as this evening, the paraffin freezes and the
light goes out. Losing one’s way here might be a very serious matter,
and I don’t want to run the risk of it.

” Here we have the first mark-post; we were lucky to come straight upon
it. The dogs are on ahead, making for the depot. Another reason for
being very careful on the way to the depot is that there is a big hole,
20 feet deep, just by a hummock on that slope where, you remember, the
last flag stands. If one missed one’s way and fell into it, one might
get hurt.” We passed close to the second mark. “The next two marks are
more difficult to hit off — they are so low; and I often wait and
call the dogs to me to find the way — as I am going to do now, for
instance. It is impossible to see anything unless you come right on it,
so we must wait and let the dogs help us. I know exactly the number
of paces between each mark, and when I have gone that number, I stop
and first examine the ground close by. If that is no good, I whistle
for the dogs, who come at once. Now you’ll see” — a long whistle —
“it won’t be long before they are here. I can hear them already.” He
was right; the dogs came running out of the darkness straight towards
us. “To let them see that we want to find the way to the depot,
we must begin to walk on.” We did so. As soon as the dogs saw this,
they went forward again, but this time at a pace that allowed us to
keep up with them at a trot, and soon after we were at the last mark.

“As you see, my lantern over at the camp is just going out, so I
hope you will excuse my accompanying you farther. You know your way,

With these words we parted, and my host went back, followed by the
faithful trio, whilst I …


The End of the Winter

After Midwinter Day the time began to pass even more quickly than
before. The darkest period was over, and the sun was daily drawing
nearer. In the middle of the darkest time, Hassel came in one morning
and announced that Else had eight puppies. Six of these were ladies,
so their fate was sealed at once; they were killed and given to their
elder relations, who appreciated them highly. It could hardly be seen
that they chewed them at all; they went down practically whole. There
could be no doubt of their approval, as the next day the other two
had also disappeared.

The weather conditions we encountered down here surprised us
greatly. In every quarter of the Antarctic regions of which we had
any information, the conditions had always proved very unsettled. On
the Belgica, in the drift-ice to the west of Graham Land, we always
had rough, unpleasant weather. Nordenskjцld’s stay in the regions to
the east of the same land gave the same report — storm after storm
the whole time. And from the various English expeditions that have
visited McMurdo Sound we hear of continual violent winds. Indeed,
we know now that while we were living on the Barrier in the most
splendid weather — calms or light breezes — Scott at his station
some four hundred miles to the west of us was troubled by frequent
storms, which greatly hindered his work.

I had expected the temperature to remain high, as throughout the winter
we could very clearly see the dark sky over the sea. Whenever the state
of the air was favourable, the dark, heavy water-sky was visible in a
marked degree, leaving no doubt that a large extent of Ross Sea was
open the whole year round. Nevertheless, the temperature went very
low, and without doubt the mean temperature shown by our observations
for the year is the lowest that has ever been recorded. Our lowest
temperature, on August 13, 1911, was -74.2°F. For five months of the
year we were able to record temperatures below -58°F. The temperature
rose with every wind, except the south-west; with that it more usually
went down.

We observed the aurora australis many times, but only a few of its
appearances were specially powerful. They were of all possible forms,
though the form of ribbon-like bands seemed to be commonest. Most of
the aurorж were multicoloured — red and green.

My hypothesis of the solidity of the Barrier — that is, of its resting
upon underlying land — seems to be confirmed at all points by our
observations during our twelve months’ stay on it. In the course of
the winter and spring the pack-ice is forced up against the Barrier
into pressure-ridges of as much as 40 feet in height. This took place
only about a mile and a quarter from our hut, without our noticing
its effect in the slightest degree. In my opinion, if this Barrier had
been afloat, the effect of the violent shock which took place at its
edge would not merely have been noticeable, but would have shaken our
house. While building the house, Stubberud and Bjaaland heard a loud
noise a long way off, but could feel nothing. During our whole stay
we never heard a sound or felt a movement on this spot. Another very
good proof seems to be afforded by the large theodolite that Prestrud
used. It would take next to nothing to disturb its level — a slight
change of temperature might be enough. So delicate an instrument
would have soon shown an inclination if the Barrier had been afloat.

The day we entered the bay for the first time, a small piece of its
western cape broke away. During the spring the drift-ice pressed in
an insignificant part of one of the many points on the outer edge of
the Barrier. With these exceptions, we left the Barrier as we found
it, entirely unaltered. The soundings, which showed a rapid rise
in the bottom as the Fram changed her position southward along the
Barrier, are also a clear sign that land is close at hand. Finally,
the formations of the Barrier appear to be the best proof. It could not
rise to 1,100 feet — which we measured as the rise from Framheim to
a point about thirty-one miles to the south — without subjacent land.

Work now proceeded on the sledging outfit with feverish haste. We had
for a long time been aware that we should have to do our utmost and
make the best use of our time if we were to have the general outfit
for our common use ready by the middle of August. For preparing our
personal outfit we had to use our leisure time. By the first half
of August we could begin to see the end of our labour. Bjaaland had
now finished the four sledges. It was a masterly piece of work that
he had carried out in the course of the winter; they were extremely
lightly constructed, but very strong. They were of the same length as
the original sledges — about 12 feet — and were not shod. We should
have a couple of the old Fram sledges with us, and these were shod
with strong steel plates, so that they could be used if the surface
and going rendered it necessary. The average weight of the new sledges
was 53 pounds. We had thus saved as much as 110 pounds per sledge.

When Bjaaland had finished them, they were taken into the “Clothing
Store.” The way in which Hanssen and Wisting lashed the various parts
together was a guarantee of their soundness; in fact, the only way in
which one can expect work to be properly and carefully carried out is
to have it done by the very men who are to use the things. They know
what is at stake. They do it so that they may reach their destination;
more than that, they do it so that they may come back again. Every
piece of binding is first carefully examined and tested; then it
is put on, cautiously and accurately. Every turn is hauled taut,
taking care that it is in its right place. And, finally, the lashing
is pointed in such a way that one would do best to use a knife or an
axe if it has to be undone again; there is no danger of jerking it
out with the fingers. A sledge journey of the kind we had before us
is a serious undertaking, and the work has to be done seriously.

It was no warm and comfortable workshop that they had for doing
this. The Clothing Store was always the coldest place, probably because
there was always a draught through it. There was a door out on to
the Barrier, and an open passage leading to the house. Fresh air was
constantly passing through, though not in any very great quantity;
but it does not take much to make itself felt when the air is at
a temperature of about -75°F., and when one is working with bare
fingers. There were always some degrees of frost here. In order to
keep the lashings pliable while they were being put on, they used
a Primus lamp on a stone close to where they were working. I often
admired their patience when I stood watching them; I have seen them
more than once working barehanded by the hour together in a temperature
of about -22°F. This may pass for a short time; but through the coldest
and darkest part of the winter, working day after day, as they did,
it is pretty severe, and a great trial of patience. Nor were their
feet very well off either; it makes hardly any difference what one
puts on them if one has to stay still. Here, as elsewhere in the cold,
it was found that boots with wooden soles were the best for sedentary
work; but for some reason or other the occupants of the Clothing
Store would not give their adherence to the wooden-sole principle,
and continued to work all through the winter in their reindeer-skin
and sealskin boots. They preferred stamping their feet to acknowledging
the incontestable superiority of wooden soles in such conditions.

As the sledges were finished, they were numbered from one to seven,
and stored in the clothing department. The three old sledges we should
have to use were made for the Fram’s second expedition. They were
extremely strong, and, of course, heavier than the new ones. They were
all carefully overhauled; all the bindings and lashings were examined,
and replaced wherever necessary. The steel shoes were taken off one,
but retained on the other two, in case we should meet with conditions
where they would be required.

In addition to this work of lashing, these two had plenty of other
occupation. Whenever Wisting was not taken up by the work on the
sledges, one could hear the hum of his sewing-machine. He had
a thousand different things to do in his sewing-room, and was in
there nearly every day till late in the evening. It was only when the
target and darts came out at half-past eight that he showed himself,
and if it had not been that he had undertaken the position of marker
at these competitions, we should hardly have seen him even then. His
first important piece of work was making four three-man tents into
two. It was not easy to manage these rather large tents in the little
hole that went by the name of the sewing-room; of course, he used
the table in the Clothing Store for cutting out, but, all the same,
it is a mystery how he contrived to get hold of the right seams when
he sat in his hole. I was prepared to see the most curious-looking
tents when once they were brought out and set up in daylight; one
might imagine that the floor of one would be sewed on to the side of
another. But nothing of the sort happened. When the tents were brought
out for the first time and set up, they proved to be perfect. One
would have thought they had been made in a big sail-loft instead of
in a snow-drift. Neat-fingered fellows like this are priceless on
such an expedition as ours.

On the second Fram expedition they used double tents, and as, of
course, nothing is so good and serviceable as the thing one has not
got, the praises of double tents were now sung in every key. Well,
I naturally had to admit that a house with double walls is warmer
than one with single walls, but, at the same time, one must not lose
sight of the fact that the double-walled house is also twice as heavy;
and when one has to consider the weight of a pocket-handkerchief,
it will be understood that the question of the real advantages of
the double-walled house had to be thoroughly considered before taking
the step of committing oneself to it. I had thought that with double
walls one would possibly avoid some of the rime that is generally so
troublesome in the tents, and often becomes a serious matter. If,
then, the double walls would in any way prevent or improve this
condition of things, I could see the advantage of having them; for
the increased weight caused by the daily deposit of rime would in a
short time be equal to, if not greater than, the additional weight
of the double tent. These double tents are made so that the outer
tent is fast and the inner loose. In the course of our discussion,
it appeared that the deposit of rime occurred just as quickly on a
double tent as on a single one, and thus the utility of the double
tent appeared to me to be rather doubtful. If the object was merely
to have it a few degrees warmer in the tent, I thought it best to
sacrifice this comfort to the weight we should thereby save. Moreover,
we were so plentifully supplied with warm sleeping things that we
should not have to suffer any hardship.

But another question cropped up as a result of this discussion —
the question of what was the most useful colour for a tent. We were
soon agreed that a dark-coloured tent was best, for several reasons:
In the first place, as a relief to the eyes. We knew well enough what a
comfort it would be to come into a dark tent after travelling all day
on the glistening Barrier surface. In the next place, the dark colour
would make the tent a good deal warmer when the sun was up — another
important consideration. One may easily prove this by walking in dark
clothes in a hot sun, and afterwards changing to white ones. And,
finally, a dark tent would be far easier to see on the white surface
than a light one. When all these questions had been discussed, and
the superiority of a dark tent admitted, we were doubly keen on it,
since all our tents happened to be light, not to say white, and the
possibility of getting dark ones was not very apparent. It is true
that we had a few yards of darkish ” gabardine,” or light windproof
material, which would have been extremely suitable for this purpose,
but every yard of it had long ago been destined for some other use,
so that did not get us out of the difficulty. “But,” said somebody —
and he had a very cunning air as he uttered that “but” — “but haven’t
we got ink and ink-powder that we can dye our tents dark with?” Yes,
of course! We all smiled indulgently; the thing was so plain that
it was almost silly to mention it, but all the same — the man was
forgiven his silliness, and dye-works were established. Wisting
accepted the position of dyer, in addition to his other duties, and
succeeded so well that before very long we had two dark blue tents
instead of the white ones.

These looked very well, no doubt, freshly dyed as they were,
but the question was, What would they look like after a couple of
months’ use? The general opinion was that they would probably, to a
great extent, have reverted to their original colour — or lack of
colour. Some better patent had to be invented. As we were sitting
over our coffee after dinner one day, someone suddenly suggested:
“But look here — suppose we took our bunk — curtains and made an
outer tent of them?” This time the smile that passed over the company,
as they put down their cups, was almost compassionate. Nothing was
said, but the silence meant something like: “Poor chap! — as if we
hadn’t all thought of that long ago!” The proposal was adopted without
discussion, and Wisting had another long job, in addition to all the
rest. Our bunk-curtains were dark red, and made of very light material;
they were sewed together, curtain to curtain, and finally the whole
was made into an outer tent. The curtains only sufficed for one tent,
but, remembering that half a loaf is better than no bread, we had to be
satisfied with this. The red tent, which was set up a few days after,
met with unqualified approval; it would be visible some miles away
in the snow. Another important advantage was that it would protect
and preserve the main tent. Inside, the effect of the combination of
red and blue was to give an agreeably dark shade. Another question
was how to protect the tent from a hundred loose dogs, who were no
better behaved than others of their kind. If the tent became stiff
and brittle, it might be spoilt in a very short time. And the demands
we made on our tents were considerable; we expected them to last at
least 120 days. I therefore got Wisting to make two tent-protectors,
or guards. These guards consisted simply of a piece of gabardine
long enough to stretch all round the tent, and to act as a fence in
preventing the dogs from coming in direct contact with the tents. The
guards were made with loops, so that they could be stretched upon
ski-poles. They looked very fine when they were finished, but they
never came to be used; for, as soon as we began the journey, we
found a material that was even more suitable and always to be had —
snow. Idiots! — of course, we all knew that, only we wouldn’t say
so. Well, that was one against us. However, the guards came in well as
reserve material on the trip, and many were the uses they were put to.

In the next place, Wisting had to make wind-clothing for every
man. That we had brought out proved to be too small, but the things
he made were big enough. There was easily room for two more in
my trousers; but they have to be so. In these regions one soon
finds out that everything that is roomy is warm and comfortable,
while everything that is tight — foot-gear, of course, excepted —
is warm and uncomfortable. One quickly gets into a perspiration,
and spoils the clothes. Besides the breeches and anorak of light
wind-cloth, he made stockings of the same material. I assumed that
these stockings — worn among the other stockings we had on — would
have an insulating effect. Opinions were greatly divided on this point;
but I must confess — in common with my four companions on the Polar
journey — that I would never make a serious trip without them. They
fulfilled all our expectations. The rime was deposited on them freely,
and was easily brushed off. If they got wet, it was easy to dry them
in almost all weathers; I know of no material that dries so quickly
as this windproof stuff. Another thing was that they protected the
other stockings against tears, and made them last much longer than
would otherwise have been the case.

As evidence of how pleased we who took part in the long sledge journey
were with these stockings, I may mention that when we reached the depot
in 80°S. — on the homeward trip, be it noted; that is, when we looked
upon the journey as over — we found there some bags with various
articles of clothing. In one of these were two pairs of windproof
stockings — the bag presumably belonged to an opponent of the idea —
and it may be imagined that there was some fun. We all wanted them —
all, without exception. The two lucky ones each seized his pair and
hid it, as if it was the most costly treasure. What they wanted with
them I cannot guess, as we were at home; but this example shows how
we had learnt to appreciate them.

I recommend them most warmly to men who are undertaking similar
expeditions. But — I must add — they must give themselves the trouble
of taking off their foot-gear every evening, and brushing the rime off
their stockings; if one does not do this, of course, the rime will thaw
in the course of the night, and everything will be soaking wet in the
morning. In that case you must not blame the stockings, but yourself.

After this it was the turn of the underclothing; there was nothing
in the tailoring and outfitting department that Wisting could not
manage. Among our medical stores we had two large rolls of the most
beautiful fine light flannel, and of this he made underclothing for
all of us. What we had brought out from home was made of extremely
thick woollen material, and we were afraid this would be too
warm. Personally, I wore Wisting’s make the whole trip, and have never
known anything so perfect. Then he had covers for the sleeping-bags
to sew and patch, and one thing and another. Some people give one the
impression of being able to make anything, and to get it done in no
time — others not.

Hanssen had his days well occupied, industrious and handy as he
was. He was an expert at anything relating to sledges, and knew
exactly what had to be done. Whatever he had a hand in, I could
feel sure of; he never left anything to chance. Besides lashing
the sledges, he had a number of other things to do. Amongst them,
he was to prepare all the whips we required — two for each driver,
or fourteen altogether. Stubberud was to supply the handles. In
consultation with the “Carpenters’ Union,” I had chosen a handle
made of three narrow strips of hickory. I assumed that if these were
securely lashed together, and the lashings covered with leather,
they would make as strong a handle as one could expect to get. The
idea of the composite handle of three pieces of wood was that it would
give and bend instead of breaking. We knew by experience that a solid
whip-handle did not last very long. It was arranged, then, that the
handles were to be made by Stubberud, and passed on to Hanssen.

The whip-lashes were made by Hassel, in the course of the winter, on
the Eskimo model. They were round and heavy — as they should be —
and dangerous to come near, when they were wielded by an experienced
hand. Hanssen received these different parts to join them together and
make the whip. As usual, this was done with all possible care. Three
strong lashings were put on each handle, and these again were covered
with leather. Personally, Hanssen was not in favour of the triple
hickory handle, but he did the work without raising any objection. We
all remarked, it is true, that at this time, contrary to his habit,
he spent the hours after supper with Wisting. I wondered a little at
this, as I knew Hanssen was very fond of a game of whist after supper,
and never missed it unless he had work to do. I happened one evening
to express my surprise at this, and Stubberud answered at once:
“He’s making handles.” — “What sort of handles?” — “Whip-handles;
but,” Stubberud added, “I’ll guarantee those hickory handles I’m
making. You can’t have anything tougher and stronger than those.” He
was rather sore about it, that was easy to see; the idea was his own,
too. Then — talk of the devil — in walked Hanssen, with a fine big
whip in his hand. I, of course, appeared extremely surprised. “What,”
I said, “more whips?” — “Yes,” said he; “I don’t believe in those
I’m making in the daytime. But here’s a whip that I can trust.” I
must admit that it looked well. The whole handle was covered, so that
one could not see what it was made of. “But,” I ventured to object,
“are you sure it is as strong as the others?” — “Oh, as to that,”
he answered, “I’m quite ready to back it against any of those —
” He did not say the word, nor was there any need. His meaning was
unmistakable, and “rotten whips” sounded in our ears as plainly as
if he had shouted it. I had no time to observe the effect of this
terrible utterance, for a determined voice called out: “We’ll see
about that!” I turned round, and there was Stubberud leaning against
the end of the table, evidently hurt by Hanssen’s words, which he took
as a personal affront. “If you dare risk your whip, come on.” He had
taken down one of the insulted triple-handled whips from the shelf in
his bunk, and stood in a fighting attitude. This promised well. We
all looked at Hanssen. He had gone too far to be able to draw back;
he had to fight. He took his weapon in his hand, and entered the
“ring.” The conditions were arranged and accepted by both parties;
they were to fight until one of the handles was broken. And then the
whip duel began. The opponents were very serious over it. One, two,
three — the first blow fell, handle against handle. The combatants
had shut their eyes and awaited the result; when they opened them
again, they shone with happy surprise — both handles were as whole as
before. Now each of them was really delighted with his own handle,
and the blows fell faster. Stubberud, who was standing with his
back to the table, got so excited over the unexpected result that,
every time he raised his weapon, he gave the edge of the table a
resounding smack without knowing it. How many rounds had been fought
I do not know, when I heard a crack, followed by the words: “There
you can see, old man!” As Stubberud left the ring, I was able to see
Hanssen. He stood on the battle-field, eyeing his whip; it looked like
a broken lily. The spectators had not been silent; they had followed
the fight with excitement, amid laughter and shouts. “That’s right,
Stubberud. Don’t give in!” “Bravo, Hanssen! that’s a good one!”

The whips afterwards turned out remarkably well — not that they lasted
out the trip, but they held together for a long while. Whip-handles
are a very perishable commodity; if one used nothing but the lash,
they would be everlasting, but, as a rule, one is not long satisfied
with that. It is when one gives a “confirmation,” as we call it, that
the handle breaks. A confirmation is generally held when some sinner
or other has gone wrong and refuses to obey. It consists in taking the
first opportunity, when the sledge stops, of going in among the dogs,
taking out the defiant one, and laying into him with the handle. These
confirmations, if they occur frequently, may use up a lot of handles.

It was also arranged that Hanssen should prepare goggles in the Eskimo
fashion, and he began this work; but it soon appeared that everyone
had some patent of his own which was much better. Therefore it was
given up, and every man made his own goggles.

Stubberud’s chief work was making the sledge cases lighter, and
he succeeded in doing this, but not without hard work. It took far
longer than one would have thought. The wood had a good many knots,
and he often had to work against the grain; the planing was therefore
rather difficult and slow. He planed a good deal off them, but could
“guarantee them,” as he said. Their sides were not many millimetres
thick; to strengthen them in the joints, corners of aluminium were
put on.

In addition to remaking the sledges, Bjaaland had to get the ski
ready. To fit the big, broad boots we should wear, the Huitfeldt
fittings had to be much broader than usual, and we had such with us,
so that Bjaaland had only to change them. The ski-bindings were like
the snow-goggles; everyone had his own patent. I found the bindings
that Bjaaland had put on for himself so efficient that I had no
hesitation in ordering similar ones for myself; and it may be said
to their honour, and to the honour of him who made them, that they
were first-rate, and served me well during the whole trip. They were,
after all, only a retention of the old system, but, with the help of
hooks and eyes, they could be put on and taken off in an instant. And
those were the conditions we demanded of our bindings — that they
should hold the foot as firmly as a vice, and should be easy to hook
on and take off. For we always had to take them off on the journey;
if one left one’s bindings out for a night, they were gone in the
morning. The dogs looked upon them as a delicacy. The toe-strap also
had to be removed in the evening; in other words, the ski had to be
left absolutely bare.

Johansen, besides his packing, was occupied in making weights and
tent-pegs. The weights were very ingeniously made; the steelyard
system was adopted. If they were never used, it was not the fault of
the weights — they were good enough. But the reason was that we had
all our provisions so arranged that they could be taken without being
weighed. We were all weighed on August 6, and it then appeared that
Lindstrцm was the heaviest, with 13 st. 8 lbs. On that occasion he was
officially christened “Fatty.” The tent-pegs Johansen made were the
opposite of what such pegs usually are; in other words, they were flat
instead of being high. We saw the advantage at once. Besides being
so much lighter, they were many times stronger. I do not know that
we ever broke a peg on the trip; possibly we lost one or two. Most
of them were brought home undamaged.

Hassel worked at his whip-lashes down in the petroleum store. It was
an uncomfortable place for him — always cold; but he had the lashes
ready by the time he had promised them.

Prestrud made charts and copied out tables. Six of us were to have
these copies. In each sledge there was a combined provision and
observation book, bearing the same number as the sledge. It contained,
first, an exact list of the provisions contained in each case on that
sledge, and, in addition, the necessary tables for our astronomical
observations. In these books each man kept a daily account of every
scrap of provisions he took out; in this way we could always check
the contents of the cases, and know what quantity of provisions we
had. Farther on in the book the observations were entered, and the
distance covered for the day, course, and so on.

That is a rough outline of what we were doing in the course of the
winter in “working hours.” Besides this there were, of course,
a hundred things that every man had to do for his personal
equipment. During the winter each man had his outfit served out
to him, so that he might have time to make whatever alterations he
found necessary. Every man received a heavy and a lighter suit of
reindeer-skin, as well as reindeer-skin mits and stockings. He also
had dogskin stockings and sealskin kamiks. In addition, there was a
complete outfit of underclothing and wind-clothes. All were served
alike; there was no priority at all. The skin clothing was the first
to be tackled, and here there was a good deal to be done, as nothing
had been made to measure. One man found that the hood of his anorak
came too far down over his eyes, another that it did not come down far
enough; so both had to set to work at alterations, one cutting off,
the other adding a piece. One found his trousers too long, another
too short, and they had to alter those. However, they managed it;
the needle was always at work, either for sewing a piece on, or for
hemming the shortened piece. Although we began this work in good time,
it looked as if we should never have finished. The room orderly had
to sweep out huge piles of strips and reindeer-hair every morning,
but the next morning there were just as many. If we had stayed there,
I am sure we should still be sitting and sewing away at our outfit.

A number of patents were invented. Of course, the everlasting mask for
the face was to the fore, and took the form of nose-protectors. I,
too, allowed myself to be beguiled into experimenting, with good
reason, as I thought, but with extremely poor results. I had hit upon
something which, of course, I thought much better than anything that
had been previously tried. The day I put on my invention, I not only
got my nose frozen, but my forehead and cheek as well. I never tried
it again. Hassel was great at new inventions; he wore nose-protectors
all over him. These patents are very good things for passing the time;
when one actually takes the field, they all vanish. They are useless
for serious work.

The sleeping-bags were also a great source of interest. Johansen
was at work on the double one he was so keen on. Heaven knows how
many skins he put into it! I don’t, nor did I ever try to find
out. Bjaaland was also in full swing with alterations to his. He
found the opening at the top inconvenient, and preferred to have it
in the middle; his arrangement of a flap, with buttons and loops,
made it easy to mistake him for a colonel of dragoons when he was
in bed. He was tremendously pleased with it; but so he was with his
snow-goggles, in spite of the fact that he could not see with them,
and that they allowed him to become snow-blind. The rest of us kept
our sleeping-bags as they were, only lengthening or shortening them
as required. We were all greatly pleased with the device for closing
them — on the plan of a sack. Outside our bags we had a cover of
very thin canvas; this was extremely useful, and I would not be
without it for anything. In the daytime the sleeping-bag was always
well protected by this cover; no snow could get in. At night it was
perhaps even more useful, as it protected the bag from the moisture
of the breath. Instead of condensing on the skin and making it wet,
this settled on the cover, forming in the course of the night a film
of ice, which disappeared again during the day, breaking off while the
bag ay stretched on the sledge. This cover ought to be of ample size;
it is important that it should be rather longer than the sleeping-bag,
so that one may have plenty of it round the neck, and thus prevent
the breath from penetrating into the bag. We all had double bags —
an inner and an outer one. The inner one was of calf-skin or thin
female reindeer-skin, and quite light; the outer one was of heavy
buck reindeer-skin, and weighed about 13 pounds. Both were open at
the end, like a sack, and were laced together round the neck. I have
always found this pattern the easiest, simplest, most comfortable,
and best. We recommend it to all.

Novelties in the way of snow-goggles were many. This was, of course, a
matter of the greatest importance and required study — it was studied,
too! The particular problem was to find good goggles without glass. It
is true that I had worn nothing but a pair of ordinary spectacles,
with light yellow glasses, all the autumn, and that they had proved
excellent; but for the long journey I was afraid these would give
insufficient protection. I therefore threw myself into the competition
for the best patent. The end of it was that we all went in for leather
goggles, with a little slit for the eyes. The Bjaaland patent won the
prize, and was most adopted. Hassel had his own invention, combined
with a nose-protector; when spread out it reminded me of the American
eagle. I never saw him use it. Nor did any of us use these new goggles,
except Bjaaland. He used his own goggles the whole way, but then,
he was the only one who became snow-blind. The spectacles I wore —
Hanssen had the same; they were the only two pairs we had — gave
perfect protection; not once did I have a sign of snow-blindness. They
were exactly like other spectacles, without any gauze at all round the
glasses; the light could penetrate everywhere. Dr. Schanz, of Dresden,
who sent me these glasses, has every right to be satisfied with his
invention; its beats anything I have ever tried or seen.

The next great question was our boots. I had expressly pointed out
that boots must be taken, whether the person concerned intended to
wear them or not; for boots were indispensable, in case of having
to cross any glacier, which was a contingency we had to reckon with,
from the descriptions we had read of the country. With this proviso
everyone might do as he pleased, and all began by improving their
boots in accordance with our previous experience. The improvement
consisted in making them larger. Wisting took mine in hand again,
and began once more to pull them to pieces. It is only by tearing a
thing to pieces that one can see what the work is like. We gained a
good insight into the way our boots had been made; stronger or more
conscientious work it would be impossible to find. It was hard work
pulling them to pieces. This time mine lost a couple more soles. How
many that made altogether I do not remember, but now I got what I had
always called for — room enough. Besides being able to wear all the
foot-coverings I had, I could also find room for a wooden sole. That
made me happy; my great object was achieved. Now the temperature could
be as low as it liked; it would not get through the wooden soles and
my various stockings — seven pairs, I think, in all. I was pleased
that evening, as the struggle had been a long one; it had taken me
nearly two years to arrive at this result.

And then there was the dog-harness, which we must all have in
order. The experience of the last depot journey, when two dogs fell
into a crevasse through faulty harness, must not be allowed to repeat
itself, We therefore devoted great care and attention to this gear,
and used all the best materials we had. The result rewarded our pains;
we had good, strong harness for every team.

This description will, perhaps, open the eyes of some people, and show
them that the equipment of an expedition such as we were about to enter
upon is not the affair of a day. It is not money alone that makes for
the success of such an expedition — though, Heaven knows, it is a good
thing to have — but it is in a great measure — indeed, I may say
that this is the greatest factor — the way in which the expedition
is equipped — the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and
precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who
has everything in order — luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for
him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this
is called bad luck. But pray do not think this is an epitaph I wish
to have inscribed on my own tomb. No; honour where honour is due —
honour to my faithful comrades, who, by their patience, perseverance
and experience, brought our equipment to the limit of perfection,
and thereby rendered our victory possible.

On August 16 we began to pack our sledges; two were placed in the
Crystal Palace and two in the Clothing Store. It was a great advantage
to be able to do this work under cover; at this time the temperature
was dancing a cancan between -58° and -75°F., with an occasional
refreshing breeze of thirteen or fourteen miles an hour. It would have
been almost an impossibility to pack the sledges out of doors under
these conditions if it was to be done carefully and firmly; and,
of course, it had to be so done. Our fixed wire-rope lashings had
to be laced together with lengths of thin rope, and this took time;
but when properly done, as it was now, the cases were held as though
in a vice, and could not move. The zinc plates we had had under the
sledges to keep them up in loose snow had been taken off; we could not
see that we should have any use for them. In their place we had lashed
a spare ski under each sledge, and these were very useful later. By
August 22 all the sledges were ready, waiting to be driven away.

The dogs did not like the cold weather we had now had for so long;
when the temperature went down between -58° and -75° F., one could
see by their movements that they felt it. They stood still and raised
their feet from the ground in turn, holding each foot up for a while
before putting it down again on the cold surface. They were cunning and
resourceful in the extreme. They did not care very much for fish, and
some of them were difficult to get into the tents on the evenings when
they knew there was fish. Stubberud, especially, had a great deal of
trouble with one of the young dogs — Funcho was his name. He was born
at Madeira during our stay there in September, 1910. On meat evenings
each man, after fastening up his dogs, went, as has been described,
up to the wall of the meat-tent and took his box of chopped-up meat,
which was put out there. Funcho used to watch for this moment. When he
saw Stubberud take the box, he knew there was meat, and then he came
quietly into the tent, as though there was nothing the matter. If, on
the other hand, Stubberud showed no sign of fetching the box, the dog
would not come, nor was it possible to get hold of him. This happened
a few times, but then Stubberud hit upon a stratagem. When Funcho,
as usual — even on a fish evening — watched the scene of chaining up
the other dogs from a distance, Stubberud went calmly up to the wall,
took the empty box that lay there, put it on his shoulder, and returned
to the tent. Funcho was taken in. He hurried joyfully into the tent,
delighted, no doubt, with Stubberud’s generosity in providing meat two
evenings running. But there, to his great surprise, a very different
reception awaited him from that he expected. He was seized by the neck
and made fast for the night. After an ugly scowl at the empty box,
he looked at Stubberud; what he thought, I am not sure. Certain it
is that the ruse was not often successful after that. Funcho got a
dried fish for supper, and had to be content with it.

We did not lose many dogs in the course of the winter. Two — Jeppe
and Jakob — died of some disease or other. Knжgten was shot, as he
lost almost all his hair over half his body. Madeiro, born at Madeira,
disappeared early in the autumn; Tom disappeared later — both these
undoubtedly fell into crevasses. We had a very good opportunity —
twice — of seeing how this might happen; both times we saw the dog
disappear into the crevasse, and could watch him from the surface. He
went quite quietly backwards and forwards down below without uttering
a sound. These crevasses were not deep, but they were steep-sided,
so that the dog could not get out without help. The two dogs I have
mentioned undoubtedly met their death in this way: a slow death
it must be, when one remembers how tenacious of life a dog is. It
happened several times that dogs disappeared, were absent for some
days, and then came back; possibly they had been down a crevasse, and
had finally succeeded in getting out of it again. Curiously enough,
they did not pay much attention to the weather when they went on trips
of this kind. When the humour took them, they would disappear, even
if the temperature was down in the fifties below zero, with wind and
driving snow. Thus Jaala, a lady belonging to Bjaaland, took it into
her head to go off with three attendant cavaliers. We came upon them
later; they were then lying quietly behind a hummock down on the ice,
and seemed to be quite happy. They had been away for about eight days
without food, and during that time the temperature had seldom been
above -58° F.

August 23 arrived: calm, partly overcast, and -43.6°F. Finer weather
for taking out our sledges and driving them over to the starting-point
could not be imagined. They had to be brought up through the door
of the Clothing Store; it was the largest and the easiest to get
through. We had first to dig away the snow, which latterly had been
allowed to collect there, as the inmates of this department had
for some time past used the inner passage. The snow had blotted out
everything, so that no sign of the entrance could be seen; but with
a couple of strong shovels, and a couple of strong men to use them,
the opening was soon laid bare. To get the sledges up was a longer
business; they weighed 880 pounds apiece, and the way up to the surface
was steep. A tackle was rigged, and by hauling and shoving they slowly,
one by one, came up into daylight. We dragged them away to a place
near the instrument-screen, so as to get a clear start away from the
house. The dogs were fresh and wild, and wanted plenty of room; a case,
not to mention a post, still less the instrument-screen, would all
have been objects of extreme interest, to which, if there had been
the slightest opportunity, their course would infallibly have been
directed. The protests of their drivers would have been of little
avail. The dogs had not been let loose that morning, and every man
was now in his tent harnessing them. Meanwhile I stood contemplating
the packed sledges that stood there ready to begin the long journey.

I tried to work up a little poetry — “the ever-restless spirit of
man ” — “the mysterious, awe-inspiring wilderness of ice” — but it
was no good; I suppose it was too early in the morning. I abandoned
my efforts, after coming to the conclusion that each sledge gave one
more the idea of a coffin than of anything else, all the cases being
painted black.

It was as we had expected: the dogs were on the verge of
exploding. What a time we had getting them all into the traces! They
could not stand still an instant; either it was a friend they wanted
to wish good-morning, or it was an enemy they were longing to fly
at. There was always something going on; when they kicked out with
their hind-legs, raising a cloud of snow, or glared defiantly at each
other, it often caused their driver an anxious moment. If he had his
eye on them at this stage, he might, by intervening quickly and firmly,
prevent the impending battle; but one cannot be everywhere at once,
and the result was a series of the wildest fights. Strange beasts! They
had been going about the place comparatively peacefully the whole
winter, and now, as soon as they were in harness, they must needs
fight as if their lives depended on it. At last we were all ready
and away. It was the first time we had driven with teams of twelve,
so that we were anxious to see the result.

It went better than we had expected; of course, not like an express
train, but we could not expect that the first time. Some of the dogs
had grown too fat in the course of the winter, and had difficulty in
keeping up; for them this first trip was a stiff pull. But most of them
were in excellent condition — fine, rounded bodies, not lumpish. It
did not take long to get up the hill this time; most of them had to
stop and get their wind on the slope, but there were some that did
it without a halt. Up at the top everything looked just as we had
left it in April. The flag was still standing where we had planted
it, and did not look much the worse for wear. And, what was still
stranger, we could see our old tracks southward. We drove all our
sledges well up, unharnessed the dogs, and let them go. We took it
for granted that they would all rush joyfully home to the flesh-pots,
nor did the greater number disappoint us. They set off gaily homewards,
and soon the ice was strewn with dogs. They did not behave altogether
like good children. In some places there was a sort of mist over the
ice; this was the cloud of snow thrown up by the combatants. But on
their return they were irreproachable; one could not take any notice
of a halt here and there. At the inspection that evening, it appeared
that ten of them were missing. That was strange — could all ten have
gone down crevasses? It seemed unlikely.

Next morning two men went over to the starting-point to look for
the missing dogs. On the way they crossed a couple of crevasses, but
there was no dog to be seen. When they arrived at the place where the
sledges stood, there lay all ten curled up asleep. They were lying
by their own sledges, and did not seem to take the slightest notice
of the men’s arrival. One or two of them may have opened an eye,
but that was all. When they were roused and given to understand by
unmistakable signs that their presence was desired at home, they seemed
astonished beyond all bounds. Some of them simply declined to believe
it; they merely turned round a few times and lay down again on the
same spot. They had to be flogged home. Can anything more inexplicable
be imagined? There they lay, three miles from their comfortable home,
where they knew that abundance of food awaited them — in a temperature
of -40°F. Although they had now been out for twenty-four hours, none of
them gave a sign of wanting to leave the spot. If it had been summer,
with warm sunshine, one might have understood it; but as it was — no!

That day — August 24 — the sun appeared above the Barrier again for
the first time in four months. He looked very smiling, with a friendly
nod for the old pressure-ridges he had seen for so many years; but
when his first beams reached the starting-point, his face might well
show surprise. “Well, if they’re not first, after all! And I’ve been
doing all I could to get here!” It could not be denied; we had won
the race, and reached the Barrier a day before him.

The day for our actual start could not be fixed; we should have to
wait until the temperature moderated somewhat. So long as it continued
to grovel in the depths, we could not think of setting out. All our
things were now ready up on the Barrier, and nothing remained but
to harness the dogs and start. When I say all our things were ready,
this is not the impression anyone would have gained who looked in on
us; the cutting out and sewing were going on worse than ever. What
had previously occurred to one as a thing of secondary importance,
which might be done if there was time, but might otherwise quite well
be dropped, now suddenly appeared as the most important part of the
whole outfit; and then out came the knife and cut away, until great
heaps of offcuts and hair lay about the floor; then the needle was
produced, and seam after seam added to those there were already.

The days went by, and the temperature would give no sign of spring;
now and then it would make a jump of about thirty degrees, but only
to sink just as rapidly back to -58° F. It is not at all pleasant to
hang about waiting like this; I always have the idea that I am the only
one who is left behind, while all the others are out on the road. And
I could guess that I was not the only one of us who felt this.

“I’d give something to know how far Scott is to-day.”

“Oh, he’s not out yet, bless you! It’s much too cold for his ponies.”

“Ah, but how do you know they have it as cold as this? I expect it’s
far warmer where they are, among the mountains; and you can take your
oath they’re not lying idle. Those boys have shown what they can do.”

This was the sort of conversation one could hear daily. The uncertainty
was worrying many of us — not all — and, personally, I felt it a
great deal. I was determined to get away as soon as it was at all
possible, and the objection that much might be lost by starting too
early did not seem to me to have much force. If we saw that it was
too cold, all we had to do was to turn back; so that I could not see
there was any risk.

September came, with -43.6° F. That is a temperature that one can
always stand, but we had better wait and see what it is going to do;
perhaps it will only play its old tricks again. Next day, -63.4°
F.; calm and clear. September 6, -20.2° F. At last the change had
come, and we thought it was high time. Next day, -7.6° F. The little
slant of wind that came from the east felt quite like a mild spring
breeze. Well, at any rate, we now had a good temperature to start
in. Every man ready; to-morrow we are off.

September 8 arrived. We turned out as usual, had breakfast, and were
then on the move. We had not much to do. The empty sledges we were to
use for driving up to the starting-point were ready; we only had to
throw a few things on to them. But it turned out that the mere fact
of having so few things was the cause of its taking a long time. We
were to harness twelve dogs to the empty sledges, and we had an idea
that it would cost us a struggle to get away. We helped each other,
two and two, to bring the dogs to the sledges and harness them. Those
who were really careful had anchored their sledges to a peg firmly
fixed in the snow; others had contented themselves with capsizing
their sledges; and others, again, were even more reckless. We all
had to be ready before the first man could start; otherwise, it would
have been impossible for those who were behind to hold in their dogs,
and the result would have been a false start.

Our dogs were in a fearful state of excitement and confusion that
morning, but at last everything was ready, barring one or two
trifles. Then I suddenly heard a wild yell, and, spinning round,
I saw a team tearing off without a driver. The next driver rushed
forward to help, with the result that his dogs made off after the
others. The two sledges were on ahead, and the two drivers after them
in full gallop; but the odds were too unequal — in a few moments
the drivers were beaten. The two runaway teams had made off in a
south-westerly direction, and were going like the wind. The men had
hard work; they had long ago stopped running, and were now following
in the tracks of the sledges. The dogs had disappeared behind the
ridges, which the men did not reach till much later.

Meanwhile the rest of us waited. The question was, what would those
two do when at last they had come up with their sledges? Would they
turn and go home, or would they drive up to the starting-point? Waiting
was no fun under any circumstances, and so we decided to go on to the
starting-point, and, if necessary, wait there. No sooner said than
done, and away we went. Now we should see what command the fellows had
over their dogs, for, in all canine probability, these teams would now
try to follow the same course that the runaways had taken. This fear
turned out not to be groundless; three managed to turn their dogs and
put them in the right direction, but the other two were off on the
new course. Afterwards, of course, they tried to make out that they
thought we were all going that way. I smiled, but said nothing. It
had happened more than once that my own dogs had taken charge; no
doubt I had felt rather foolish at the time, but after all ….

It was not till noon that we all assembled with our sledges. The
drivers of the runaways had had stiff work to catch them, and were
wet through with their exertions. I had some thoughts of turning
back, as three young puppies had followed us; if we went on, we
should have to shoot them. But to turn back after all this work,
and then probably have the same thing over again next morning, was
not a pleasant prospect. And, above all, to see Lindstrцm standing
at the door, shaking with laughter — no, we had better go on. I
think we were all agreed in this. The dogs were now harnessed to the
loaded sledges, and the empty ones were stacked one above another. At
1.30 p.m. we were off. The old tracks were soon lost sight of, but we
immediately picked up the line of flags that had been set up at every
second kilometre on the last depot journey. The going was splendid,
and we went at a rattling pace to the south. We did not go very far
the first day — eleven and three-quarter miles — and pitched our
camp at 3.30 p.m. The first night out is never very pleasant, but this
time it was awful. There was such a row going on among our ninety dogs
that we could not close our eyes. It was a blessed relief when four in
the morning came round, and we could begin to get up. We had to shoot
the three puppies when we stopped for lunch that day. The going was
the same; nothing could be better. The flags we were following stood
just as we had left them; they showed no trace of there having been any
snowfall in the interval. That day we did fifteen and a half miles. The
dogs were not yet in training, but were picking up every hour.

By the 10th they seemed to have reached their full vigour; that day
none of us could hold in his team. They all wanted to get forward, with
the result that one team ran into another, and confusion followed. This
was a tiresome business; the dogs wore themselves out to no purpose,
and, of course, the time spent in extricating them from one another
was lost. They were perfectly wild that day. When Lassesen, for
instance, caught sight of his enemy Hans, who was in another team,
he immediately encouraged his friend Fix to help him. These two then
put on all the speed they could, with the result that the others in
the same team were excited by the sudden acceleration, and joined
in the spurt. It made no difference how the driver tried to stop
them; they went on just as furiously, until they reached the team
that included the object of Lassesen’s and Fix’s endeavours. Then
the two teams dashed into each other, and we had ninety-six dogs’
legs to sort out. The only thing that could be done was to let those
who could not hold in their teams unharness some of the dogs and tie
them on the sledge. In this way we got things to work satisfactorily
at last. We covered eighteen and a half miles that day.

On Monday, the 11th, we woke up to a temperature of -67.9° F. The
weather was splendid, calm, and clear. We could see by the dogs
that they were not feeling happy, as they had kept comparatively
quiet that night. The cold affected the going at once; it was slow
and unyielding. We came across some crevasses, and Hanssen’s sledge
was nearly in one; but it was held up, and he came out of it without
serious consequences. The cold caused no discomfort on the march;
on the contrary, at times it was too warm. One’s breath was like a
cloud, and so thick was the vapour over the dogs that one could not
see one team from the next, though the sledges were being driven
close to one another.

On the 12th it was -61.6° F., with a breeze dead against us. This
was undeniably bitter. It was easy to see that the temperature
was too much for the dogs; in the morning, especially, they were
a pitiful sight. They lay rolled up as tightly as possible, with
their noses under their tails, and from time to time one could see a
shiver run through their bodies; indeed, some of them were constantly
shivering. We had to lift them up and put them into their harness. I
had to admit that with this temperature it would not pay to go on;
the risk was too great. We therefore decided to drive on to the
depot in 80° S., and unload our sledges there. On that day, too,
we made the awkward discovery that the fluid in our compasses had
frozen, rendering them useless. The weather had become very thick,
and we could only guess vaguely the position of the sun. Our progress
under these circumstances was very doubtful; possibly we were on
the right course, but it was just as probable — nay, more so —
that we were off it. The best thing we could do, therefore, was to
pitch our camp, and wait for a better state of things. We did not
bless the instrument-maker who had supplied those compasses.

It was 10 a.m. when we stopped. In order to have a good shelter for the
long day before us, we decided to build two snow-huts. The snow was
not good for this purpose, but, by fetching blocks from all sides,
we managed to put up the huts. Hanssen built one and Wisting the
other. In a temperature such as we now had, a snow-hut is greatly
preferable to a tent, and we felt quite comfortable when we came in
and got the Primus going. That night we heard a strange noise round
us. I looked under my bag to see whether we had far to drop, but
there was no sign of a disturbance anywhere. In the other but they
had heard nothing. We afterwards discovered that the sound was only
due to snow “settling.” By this expression I mean the movement that
takes place when a large extent of the snow surface breaks and sinks
(settles down). This movement gives one the idea that the ground is
sinking under one, and it is not a pleasant feeling. It is followed
by a dull roar, which often makes the dogs jump into the air — and
their drivers, too, for that matter. Once we heard this booming on
the plateau so loud that it seemed like the thunder of cannon. We
soon grew accustomed to it.

Next day the temperature was -62.5° F., calm, and perfectly clear. We
did eighteen and a half miles, and kept our course as well as we could
with the help of the sun. It was -69.3° F. when we camped. This time
I had done a thing that I have always been opposed to: I had brought
spirits with me in the form of a bottle of Norwegian aquavit and a
bottle of gin. I thought this a suitable occasion to bring in the
gin. It was as hard as flint right through. While we were thawing it
the bottle burst, and we threw it out into the snow, with the result
that all the dogs started to sneeze. The next bottle — “Aquavit,
No. 1” — was like a bone, but we had learnt wisdom by experience,
and we succeeded with care in thawing it out. We waited till we were
all in our bags, and then we had one. I was greatly disappointed;
it was not half so good as I had thought. But I am glad I tried it,
as I shall never do so again. The effect was nil; I felt nothing,
either in my head or my feet.

The 14th was cool — the temperature remained at -68.8° F. Fortunately
it was clear, so that we could see where we were going. We had not gone
far before a bright projection appeared on the level surface. Out with
the glasses — the depot! There it lay, right in our course. Hanssen,
who had driven first the whole way, without a forerunner, and for
the most part without a compass, had no need to be ashamed of his
performance. We agreed that it was well done, and that, no doubt,
was all the thanks he got. We reached it at 10.15 a.m., and unloaded
our sledges at once. Wisting undertook the far from pleasant task of
getting us a cup of warm milk at -68.8° F. He put the Primus behind
one of the cases of provisions, and set it going; strangely enough,
the paraffin was still liquid in the vessel, but this was no doubt
because it had been well protected in the case. A cup of Horlick’s
Malted Milk tasted better that day than the last time I had tried it —
in a restaurant in Chicago.

Having enjoyed that, we threw ourselves on the almost empty sledges,
and set our course for home. The going was difficult, but, with the
light weight they now had to pull, the dogs went along well. I sat
with Wisting, as I considered his team the strongest. The cold held
on unchanged, and I was often surprised that it was possible to sit
still on the sledges, as we did, without freezing; but we got on quite
well. One or two I saw off their sledges all day, and most of us jumped
off from time to time and ran by the side to get warm. I myself took to
my ski and let myself be pulled along. This so-called sport has never
appealed to me, but under the circumstances it was permissible; it
warmed my feet, and that was the object of it. I again had recourse to
this “sport” of ski-driving later on, but that was for another reason.

On the 15th, as we sat in the tent cooking and chatting, Hanssen
suddenly said: “Why, I believe my heel’s gone!” Off came his stockings,
and there was a big, dead heel, like a lump of tallow. It did not look
well. He rubbed it until he thought he “could feel something again,”
and then put his feet back in his stockings and got into his bag. Now
it was Stubberud’s turn. “Blest if I don’t think there’s something
wrong with mine, too.” Same proceeding — same result. This was
pleasant — two doubtful heels, and forty-six miles from Framheim! When
we started next morning it was fortunately milder — “almost summer”:
-40° F. It felt quite pleasant. The difference between -40° and -60°
is, in my opinion, very perceptible. It may perhaps be thought that
when one gets so far down, a few degrees one way or the other do not
make any difference, but they do.

While driving that day we were obliged to let loose several of the
dogs, who could not keep up; we supposed that they would follow our
tracks. Adam and Lazarus were never seen again. Sara fell dead on
the way without any previous symptom. Camilla was also among those
let loose.

On the way home we kept the same order as on the previous days. Hanssen
and Wisting, as a rule, were a long way ahead, unless they stopped and
waited. We went at a tearing pace. We had thought of halting at the
sixteen-mile flag, as we called it — the mark at thirty kilometres
from Framheim — and waiting for the others to come up, but as the
weather was of the best, calm and clear, and with our tracks on the
way south perfectly plain, I decided to go on. The sooner we got the
bad heels into the house, the better. The two first sledges arrived
at 4 p.m.; the next at 6, and the two following ones at 6.30. The
last did not come in till 12.30 a.m. Heaven knows what they had been
doing on the way!

With the low temperatures we experienced on this trip, we noticed a
curious snow-formation that I had never seen before. Fine — extremely
fine — drift-snow collected, and formed small cylindrical bodies
of an average diameter of 1 1/4 inches, and about the same height;
they were, however, of various sizes. They generally rolled over the
surface like a wheel, and now and then collected into large heaps,
from which again, one by one, or several together, they continued
their rolling. If you took one of these bodies in the hand, there
was no increase of weight to be felt — not the very slightest. If
you took one of the largest and crushed it, there was, so to speak,
nothing left. With the temperature in the -40’s, we did not see them.

As soon as we came home, we attended to the heels. Prestrud had both
his heels frozen, one slightly, the other more severely, though, so
far as I could determine, not so badly as the other two. The first
thing we did was to lance the big blisters that had formed and let out
the fluid they contained; afterwards we put on boracic compresses,
night and morning. We kept up this treatment for a long time; at
last the old skin could be removed, and the new lay there fresh and
healthy. The heel was cured.

Circumstances had arisen which made me consider it necessary to
divide the party into two. One party was to carry out the march to
the south; the other was to try to reach King Edward VII. Land, and
see what was to be done there, besides exploring the region around
the Bay of Whales. This party was composed of Prestrud, Stubberud,
and Johansen, under the leadership of the first-named.

The advantages of this new arrangement were many. In the first place,
a smaller party could advance more rapidly than a larger one. Our
numbers, both of men and dogs, on several of the previous trips had
clearly shown the arrangement to be unfortunate. The time we took to
get ready in the morning — four hours — was one of the consequences
of being a large party. With half the number, or only one tent full,
I hoped to be able to reduce this time by half. The importance of the
depots we had laid down was, of course, greatly increased, since they
would now only have to support five members of the party originally
contemplated, and would thus be able to furnish them with supplies
for so much more time. From a purely scientific point of view, the
change offered such obvious advantages that it is unnecessary to
insist upon them. Henceforward, therefore, we worked, so to speak,
in two parties. The Polar party was to leave as soon as spring came
in earnest. I left it to Prestrud himself to fix the departure of
the party he was to lead; there was no such hurry for them — they
could take things more easily.

Then the same old fuss about the outfit began all over again, and the
needles were busy the whole time. Two days after our return, Wisting
and Bjaaland went out to the thirty-kilometre mark with the object
of bringing in the dogs that had been let loose on that part of the
route and had not yet returned. They made the trip of sixty kilometres
(thirty-seven and a half miles) in six hours, and brought all the
stragglers — ten of them — back with them. The farthest of them
were found lying by the flag; none of them showed a sign of getting
up when the sledges came. They had to be picked up and harnessed,
and one or two that had sore feet were driven on the sledges. In all
probability most of them would have returned in a few days. But it
is incomprehensible that healthy, plucky dogs, as many of them were,
should take it into their heads to stay behind like that.

On September 24 we had the first tidings of spring, when Bjaaland
came back from the ice and told us he had shot a seal. So the seals
had begun to come up on to the ice; this was a good sign. The next day
we went out to bring it in, and we got another at the same time. There
was excitement among the dogs when they got fresh meat, to say nothing
of fresh blubber. Nor were we men inclined to say no to a fresh steak.

On September 27 we removed the roof that had covered over the window
of our room. We had to carry the light down through a long wooden
channel, so that it was considerably reduced by the time it came in;
but it was light — genuine daylight — and it was much appreciated.

On the 26th Camilla came back, after an absence of ten days. She had
been let loose sixty-eight miles from Framheim on the last trip. When
she came in, she was as fat as ever; probably she had been feasting
in her solitude on one of her comrades. She was received with great
ovations by her many admirers.

On September 29 a still more certain sign of spring appeared —
a flight of Antarctic petrels. They came flying up to us to bring
the news that now spring had come — this time in earnest. We were
delighted to see these fine, swift birds again. They flew round
the house several times to see whether we were all there still;
and we were not long in going out to receive them. It was amusing
to watch the dogs: at first the birds flew pretty near the ground;
when the dogs caught sight of them, they rushed out — the whole
lot of them — to catch them. They tore along, scouring the ground,
and, of course, all wanted to be first. Then the birds suddenly rose
into the air, and presently the dogs lost sight of them. They stood
still for a moment, glaring at each other, evidently uncertain of
what was the best thing to do. Such uncertainty does not, as a rule,
last long. They made up their minds with all desirable promptitude
and flew at each other’s throats.

So now spring had really arrived; we had only to cure the frost-bitten
heels and then away.


The Start for the Pole

At last we got away, on October 19. The weather for the past few
days had not been altogether reliable; now windy, now calm — now
snowing, now clear: regular spring weather, in other words. That
day it continued unsettled; it was misty and thick in the morning,
and did not promise well for the day, but by 9.30 there was a light
breeze from the east, and at the same time it cleared.

There was no need for a prolonged inquiry into the sentiments of the
party. — What do you think? Shall we start?” — Yes, of course. Let’s
be jogging on.” There was only one opinion about it. Our coursers were
harnessed in a jiffy, and with a little nod — as much as to say,
“See you to-morrow” — we were off. I don’t believe Lindstrцm even
came out of doors to see us start. “Such an everyday affair: what’s
the use of making a fuss about it?”

There were five of us — Hanssen, Wisting, Hassel, Bjaaland, and
myself. We had four sledges, with thirteen dogs to each. At the start
our sledges were very light, as we were only taking supplies for the
trip to 80° S., where all our cases were waiting for us; we could
therefore sit on the sledges and flourish our whips with a jaunty
air. I sat astride on Wisting’s sledge, and anyone who had seen us
would no doubt have thought a Polar journey looked very inviting.

Down on the sea-ice stood Prestrud with the cinematograph, turning
the crank as fast as he could go as we went past. When we came up
on to the Barrier on the other side, he was there again, turning
incessantly. The last thing I saw, as we went over the top of the
ridge and everything familiar disappeared, was a cinematograph; it was
coming inland at full speed. I had been engaged in looking out ahead,
and turned round suddenly to throw a last glance in the direction
of the spot that to us stood for all that was beautiful on earth,
when I caught sight of — what do you think? A cinematograph. “He
can’t be taking anything but air now, can he?” — “Hardly that.” The
cinematograph vanished below the horizon.

The going was excellent, but the atmosphere became thicker as we went
inland. For the first twelve miles from the edge of the Barrier I
had been sitting with Hassel, but, seeing that Wisting’s dogs could
manage two on the sledge better than the others, I moved. Hanssen
drove first; he had to steer by compass alone, as the weather had
got thicker. After him came Bjaaland, then Hassel, and, finally,
Wisting and I. We had just gone up a little slope, when we saw that
it dropped rather steeply on the other side; the descent could not be
more than 20 yards long. I sat with my back to the dogs, looking aft,
and was enjoying the brisk drive. Then suddenly the surface by the
side of the sledge dropped perpendicularly, and showed a yawning black
abyss, large enough to have swallowed us all, and a little more. A few
inches more to one side, and we should have taken no part in the Polar
journey. We guessed from this broken surface that we had come too far
to the east, and altered our course more westerly. When we had reached
safer ground, I took the opportunity of putting on my ski and driving
so; in this way the weight was more distributed. Before very long it
cleared a little, and we saw one of our mark-flags straight ahead. We
went up to it; many memories clung to the spot — cold and slaughter
of dogs. It was there we had killed the three puppies on the last trip.

We had then covered seventeen miles, and we camped, well pleased
with the first day of our long journey. My belief that, with all in
one tent, we should manage our camping and preparations much better
than before was fully justified. The tent went up as though it arose
out of the ground, and everything was done as though we had had long
practice. We found we had ample room in the tent, and our arrangements
worked splendidly the whole time. They were as follows: as soon as we
halted, all took a hand at the tent. The pegs in the valance of the
tent were driven in, and Wisting crept inside and planted the pole,
while the rest of us stretched the guy-ropes. When this was done,
I went in, and all the things that were to go inside were handed in
to me — sleeping-bags, kit-bags, cookers, provisions. Everything
was put in its place, the Primus lighted, and the cooker filled with
snow. Meanwhile the others fed their dogs and let them loose. Instead
of the “guard,” we shovelled loose snow round the tent; this proved to
be sufficient protection — the dogs respected it. The bindings were
taken off all our ski, and either stowed with other loose articles
in a provision-case, or hung up together with the harness on the top
of the ski, which were lashed upright to the front of the sledge. The
tent proved excellent in every way; the dark colour subdued the light,
and made it agreeable.

Neptune, a fine dog, was let loose when we had come six miles over
the plain; he was so fat that he could not keep up. We felt certain
that he would follow us, but he did not appear. We then supposed
that he had turned back and made for the flesh-pots, but, strangely
enough, he did not do that either. He never arrived at the station;
it is quite a mystery what became of him. Rotta, another fine animal,
was also set free; she was not fit for the journey, and she afterwards
arrived at home. Ulrik began by having a ride on the sledge; he picked
up later. Bjцrn went limping after the sledge. Peary was incapacitated;
he was let loose and followed for a time, but then disappeared. When
the eastern party afterwards visited the depot in 80° S., they found
him there in good condition. He was shy at first, but by degrees let
them come near him and put the harness on. He did very good service
after that. Uranus and Fuchs were out of condition. This was pretty bad
for the first day, but the others were all worth their weight in gold.

During the night it blew a gale from the east, but it moderated in the
morning, so that we got away at 10 a.m. The weather did not hold for
long; the wind came again with renewed force from the same quarter,
with thick driving snow. However, we went along well, and passed flag
after flag. After going nineteen and a quarter miles, we came to
a snow beacon that had been erected at the beginning of April, and
had stood for seven months; it was still quite good and solid. This
gave us a good deal to think about: so we could depend upon these
beacons; they would not fall down. From the experience thus gained,
we afterwards erected the whole of our extensive system of beacons on
the way south. The wind went to the south-east during the day; it blew,
but luckily it had stopped snowing. The temperature was -11.5° F.,
and bitter enough against the wind. When we stopped in the evening
and set our tent, we had just found our tracks from the last trip;
they were sharp and clear, though six weeks old. We were glad to find
them, as we had seen no flag for some time, and were beginning to
get near the ugly trap, forty-six and a half miles from the house,
that had been found on the last depot journey, so we had to be careful.

The next day, the 21st, brought very thick weather: a strong breeze
from the south-east, with thick driving snow. It would not have been
a day for crossing the trap if we had not found our old tracks. It
was true that we could not see them far, but we could still see the
direction they took. So as to be quite safe, I now set our course
north-east by east — two points east was the original course. And
compared with our old tracks, this looked right, as the new course
was considerably more easterly than the direction of the tracks. One
last glance over the camping-ground to see whether anything was
forgotten, and then into the blizzard. It was really vile weather,
snowing from above and drifting from below, so that one was quite
blinded. We could not see far; very often we on the last sledge had
difficulty in seeing the first. Bjaaland was next in front of us. For
a long time we had been going markedly downhill, and this was not
in accordance with our reckoning; but in that weather one could not
make much of a reckoning. We had several times passed over crevasses,
but none of any size. Suddenly we saw Bjaaland’s sledge sink over. He
jumped off and seized the trace. The sledge lay on its side for a few
seconds, then began to sink more and more, and finally disappeared
altogether. Bjaaland had got a good purchase in the snow, and the
dogs lay down and dug their claws in. The sledge sank more and more —
all this happened in a few moments.

“Now I can’t hold it any longer.” We — Wisting and I — had just come
up. He was holding on convulsively, and resisting with all his force,
but it was no use — inch by inch the sledge sank deeper. The dogs,
too, seemed to understand the gravity of the situation; stretched out
in the snow, they dug their claws in, and resisted with all their
strength. But still, inch by inch, slowly and surely, it went down
into the abyss. Bjaaland was right enough when he said he couldn’t
hold on any longer. A few seconds more, and his sledge and thirteen
dogs would never have seen the light of day again. Help came at the
last moment. Hanssen and Hassel, who were a little in advance when
it happened, had snatched an Alpine rope from a sledge and came to
his assistance. They made the rope fast to the trace, and two of
us — Bjaaland and I — were now able, by getting a good purchase,
to hold the sledge suspended. First the dogs were taken out; then
Hassel’s sledge was drawn back and placed across the narrowest part
of the crevasse, where we could see that the edges were solid. Then
by our combined efforts the sledge, which was dangling far below, was
hoisted up as far as we could get it, and made fast to Hassel’s sledge
by the dogs’ traces. Now we could slack off and let go: one sledge hung
securely enough by the other. We could breathe a little more freely.

The next thing to be done was to get the sledge right, up, and before
we could manage that it had to be unloaded. A man would have to go
down on the rope, cast off the lashings of the cases, and attach them
again for drawing up. They all wanted this job, but Wisting had it;
he fastened the Alpine rope round his body and went down. Bjaaland
and I took up our former positions, and acted as anchors; meanwhile
Wisting reported what he saw down below. The case with the cooker was
hanging by its last thread; it was secured, and again saw the light
of day. Hassel and Hanssen attended to the hauling up of the cases,
as Wisting had them ready. These two fellows moved about on the brink
of the chasm with a coolness that I regarded at first with approving
eyes. I admire courage and contempt for danger. But the length to which
they carried it at last was too much of a good thing; they were simply
playing hide-and-seek with Fate. Wisting’s information from below —
that the cornice they were standing on was only a few inches thick —
did not seem to have the slightest effect on them; on the contrary,
they seemed to stand all the more securely.

“We’ve been lucky,” said Wisting; “this is the only place where the
crevasse is narrow enough to put a sledge across. If we had gone a
little more to the left” — Hanssen looked eagerly in that direction
— “none of us would have escaped. There is no surface there; only
a crust as thin as paper. It doesn’t look very inviting down below,
either; immense spikes of ice sticking up everywhere, which would
spit you before you got very far down.”

This description was not attractive; it was well we had found “such a
good place.” Meanwhile Wisting had finished his work, and was hauled
up. When asked whether he was not glad to be on the surface again,
he answered with a smile that “it was nice and warm down there.” We
then hauled the sledge up, and for the time being all was well. “But,”
said Hassel, “we must be careful going along here, because I was
just on the point of going in when Hanssen and I were bringing up the
sledge.” He smiled as though at a happy memory. Hassel had seen that
it was best to be careful. There was no need to look for crevasses;
there was literally nothing else to be seen.

There could be no question of going farther into the trap, for we had
long ago come to the conclusion that, in spite of our precautions,
we had arrived at this ugly place. We should have to look about for
a place for the tent, but that was easier said than done. There was
no possibility of finding a place large enough for both the tent and
the guy-ropes; the tent was set up on a small, apparently solid spot,
and the guys stretched across crevasses in all directions. We were
beginning to be quite familiar with the place. That crevasse ran
there and there, and it had a side-fissure that went so and so —
just like schoolboys learning a lesson.

Meanwhile we had brought all our things as far as possible into a
place of safety; the dogs lay harnessed to reduce the risk of losing
them. Wisting was just going over to his sledge — he had gone the
same way several times before — when suddenly I saw nothing but his
head, shoulders and arms above the snow. He had fallen through, but
saved himself by stretching his arms out as he fell. The crevasse
was bottomless, like the rest. We went into the tent and cooked
lobscouse. Leaving the weather to take care of itself, we made
ourselves as comfortable as we could. It was then one o’clock in
the afternoon. The wind had fallen considerably since we came in,
and before we knew what was happening, it was perfectly calm. It
began to brighten a little about three, and we went out to look at it.

The weather was evidently improving, and on the northern horizon
there was a sign of blue sky. On the south it was thick. Far off,
in the densest part of the mist, we could vaguely see the outline of
a dome-like elevation, and Wisting and Hanssen went off to examine
it. The dome turned out to be one of the small haycock formations that
we had seen before in this district. They struck at it with their
poles, and just as they expected — it was hollow, and revealed the
darkest abyss. Hanssen was positively chuckling with delight when he
told us about it; Hassel sent him an envious glance.

By 4 p.m. it cleared, and a small reconnoitring party, composed of
three, started to find a way out of this. I was one of the three,
so we had a long Alpine rope between us; I don’t like tumbling in,
if I can avoid it by such simple means. We set out to the east — the
direction that had brought us out of the same broken ground before —
and we had not gone more than a few paces when we were quite out of
it. It was now clear enough to look about us. Our tent stood at the
north-eastern corner of a tract that was full of hummocks; we could
decide beyond a doubt that this was the dreaded trap. We continued
a little way to the east until we saw our course clearly, and then
returned to camp. We did not waste much time in getting things ready
and leaving the place. It was a genuine relief to find ourselves
once more on good ground, and we resumed our journey southward at a
brisk pace.

That we were not quite out of the dangerous zone was shown by a number
of small hummocks to the south of us. They extended across our course
at right angles. We could also see from some long but narrow crevasses
we crossed that we must keep a good look-out. When we came into the
vicinity of the line of hummocks that lay in our course, we stopped
and discussed our prospects. “We shall save a lot of time by going
straight on through here instead of going round,” said Hanssen. I had
to admit this; but, on the other hand, the risk was much greater. “Oh,
let’s try it,” he went on; “if we can’t do it, we can’t.” I was
weak, and allowed myself to be persuaded, and away we went among the
haycocks. I could see how Hanssen was enjoying himself; this was
just what he wanted. We went faster and faster. Curiously enough,
we passed several of these formations without noticing anything,
and began to hope that we should get through. Then suddenly Hanssen’s
three leading dogs disappeared, and the others stopped abruptly. He
got them hauled up without much trouble and came over. We others,
who were following, crossed without accident, but our further progress
seemed doubtful, for after a few more paces the same three dogs fell
in again. We were now in exactly the same kind of place as before;
crevasses ran in every direction, like a broken pane of glass. I
had had enough, and would take no more part in this death-ride. I
announced decisively that we must turn back, follow our tracks, and
go round it all. Hanssen looked quite disappointed. “Well,” he said,
“but we shall be over it directly.” “I dare say we shall,” I replied;
“but we must go back first.” This was evidently hard on him; there
was one formation in particular that attracted him, and he wanted
to try his strength with it. It was a pressure-mass that, as far
as appearance went, might just as well have been formed out in the
drift-ice. It looked as if it was formed of four huge lumps of ice
raised on end against each other. We knew what it contained without
examination — a yawning chasm. Hanssen cast a last regretful glance
upon it, and then turned back.

We could now see all our surroundings clearly. This place lay, as
we had remarked before, in a hollow; we followed it round, and came
up the rise on the south without accident. Here we caught sight of
one of our flags; it stood to the east of us, and thus confirmed our
suspicion that we had been going too far to the west. We had one more
contact with the broken ground, having to cross some crevasses and
pass a big hole; but then it was done, and we could once more rejoice
in having solid ice beneath us. Hanssen, however, was not satisfied
till he had been to look into the hole. In the evening we reached
the two snow-huts we had built on the last trip, and we camped there,
twenty-six miles from the depot. The huts were drifted up with snow,
so we left them in peace, and as the weather was now so mild and fine,
we preferred the tent.

It had been an eventful day, and we had reason to be satisfied that
we had come off so easily. The going had been good, and it had all
gone like a game. When we started the next morning it was overcast
and thick, and before we had gone very far we were in the midst
of a south-wester, with snow so thick that we could hardly see ten
sledge-lengths ahead of us. We had intended to reach the depot that
day, but if this continued, it was more than doubtful whether we
should find it. Meanwhile we put on the pace. It was a long way on,
so there was no danger of driving past it. During this while it had
remained clear in the zenith, and we had been hoping that the wind and
snow would cease; but we had no such luck — it increased rather than
dropped. Our best sledge-meter — one we knew we could depend on —
was on Wisting’s sledge; therefore he had to check the distance. At
1.30 p.m. he turned round to me, and pointed out that we had gone the
exact distance; I called out to Hanssen to use his eyes well. Then, at
that very moment, the depot showed up a few sledge-lengths to the left
of us, looking like a regular palace of snow in the thick air. This
was a good test both for the sledge-meter and the compass. We drove
up to it and halted. There were three important points to be picked
up on our way south, and one of them was found; we were all glad and
in good spirits.

The ninety-nine miles from Framheim to this point had been covered
in four marches, and we could now rest our dogs, and give them as
much seal’s flesh as they were capable of eating. Thus far the trip
had been a good one for the animals; with one exception, they were
all in the best condition. This exception was Uranus. We had never
been able to get any fat on his bones; he remained thin and scraggy,
and awaited his death at the depot, a little later, in 82° S. If
Uranus was lanky to look at, the same could not be said of Jaala,
poor beast! In spite of her condition, she struggled to keep up;
she did her utmost, but unless her dimensions were reduced before we
left 82° S., she would have to accompany Uranus to another world.

The cases of provisions and outfit that we had left here on the last
trip were almost entirely snowed under, but it did not take long to
dig them out. The first thing to be done was to cut up the seals for
the dogs. These grand pieces of meat, with the blubber attached, did
not have to be thrown at the dogs; they just helped themselves as long
as there was any meat cut up, and when that was finished, they did
not hesitate to attack the “joint.” It was a pleasure to see them,
as they lay all over the place, enjoying their food; it was all so
delightfully calm and peaceful, to begin with. They were all hungry,
and thought of nothing but satisfying their immediate cravings;
but when this was done there was an end of the truce. Although Hai
had only half finished his share, he must needs go up to Rap and
take away the piece he was eating. Of course, this could not happen
without a great row, which resulted in the appearance of Hanssen; then
Hai made himself scarce. He was a fine dog, but fearfully obstinate;
if he had once taken a thing into his head, it was not easy to make
him give it up. On one of our depot journeys it happened that I was
feeding Hanssen’s dogs. Hai had made short work of his pemmican, and
looked round for more. Ah! there was Rap enjoying his — that would
just do for him. In a flash Hai was upon him, forced him to give up
his dinner, and was about to convert it to his own use. Meanwhile I had
witnessed the whole scene, and before Hai knew anything about it, I was
upon him in turn. I hit him over the nose with the whip-handle, and
tried to take the pemmican from him, but it was not so easy. Neither
of us would give in, and soon we were both rolling over and over in
the snow struggling for the mastery. I came off victorious after a
pretty hot fight, and Rap got his dinner again. Any other dog would
have dropped it at once on being hit over the nose, but not Hai.

It was a treat to get into the tent; the day had been a bitter
one. During the night the wind went round to the north, and all the
snow that had been blown northward by the wind of the previous day
had nothing to do but to come back again; the road was free. And
it made the utmost use of its opportunity; nothing could be seen
for driving snow when we turned out next morning. We could only
stay where we were, and console ourselves with the thought that it
made no difference, as it had been decided that we were to remain
here two days. But staying in a tent all day is never very amusing,
especially when one is compelled to keep to one’s sleeping-bag the
whole time. You soon get tired of talking, and you can’t write all
day long, either. Eating is a good way of passing the time, if you
can afford it, and so is reading, if you have anything to read; but
as the menu is limited, and the library as a rule somewhat deficient
on a sledging trip, these two expedients fall to the ground. There
is, however, one form of entertainment that may be indulged in under
these circumstances without scruple, and that is a good nap. Happy
the man who can sleep the clock round on days like these; but that is
a gift that is not vouchsafed to all, and those who have it will not
own up to it. I have heard men snore till I was really afraid they
would choke, but as for acknowledging that they had been asleep —
never! Some of them even have the coolness to assert that they suffer
from sleeplessness, but it was not so bad as that with any of us.

In the course of the day the wind dropped, and we went out to do some
work. We transferred the old depot to the new one. We now had here
three complete sledge-loads, for which there would be little use,
and which, therefore, were left behind. The eastern party availed
themselves of part of these supplies on their journey, but not
much. This depot is a fairly large one, and might come in useful if
anyone should think of exploring the region from King Edward Land
southward. As things were, we had no need of it. At the same time the
sledges were packed, and when evening came everything was ready for our
departure. There had really been no hurry about this, as we were going
to stay here on the following day as well; but one soon learns in these
regions that it is best to take advantage of good weather when you
have it — you never know how long it will last. There was, however,
nothing to be said about the day that followed; we could doze and doze
as much as we liked. The work went on regularly, nevertheless. The dogs
gnawed and gnawed, storing up strength with every hour that went by.

We will now take a trip out to our loaded sledges, and see what they
contain. Hanssen’s stands first, bow to the south; behind it come
Wisting’s, Bjaaland’s and Hassel’s. They all look pretty much alike,
and as regards provisions their loads are precisely similar.

Case No. 1 contains about 5,300 biscuits, and weighs 111 pounds.

Case No. 2: 112 rations of dogs’ pemmican; 11 bags of dried milk,
chocolate, and biscuits. Total gross weight, 177 pounds.

Case No. 3: 124 rations of dogs’ pemmican; 10 bags of dried milk and
biscuits. Gross weight, 161 pounds.

Case No. 4: 39 rations of dogs’ pemmican; 86 rations of men’s pemmican;
9 bags of dried milk and biscuits. Gross weight, 165 pounds.

Case No. 5: 96 rations of dogs’ pemmican. Weight, 122 pounds.

Total net weight of provisions per sledge, 668 pounds.

With the outfit and the weight of the sledge itself, the total came
to pretty nearly 880 pounds.

Hanssen’s sledge differed from the others, in that it had aluminium
fittings instead of steel and no sledge-meter, as it had to be free
from iron on account of the steering-compass he carried. Each of
the other three sledges had a sledge-meter and compass. We were thus
equipped with three sledge-meters and four compasses. The instruments
we carried were two sextants and three artificial horizons — two
glass and one mercury — a hypsometer for measuring heights, and one
aneroid. For meteorological observations, four thermometers. Also two
pairs of binoculars. We took a little travelling case of medicines
from Burroughs Wellcome and Co. Our surgical instruments were not
many: a dental forceps and — a beard-clipper. Our sewing outfit
was extensive. We carried a small, very light tent in reserve; it
would have to be used if any of us were obliged to turn back. We also
carried two Primus lamps. Of paraffin we had a good supply: twenty-two
and a half gallons divided among three sledges. We kept it in the
usual cans, but they proved too weak; not that we lost any paraffin,
but Bjaaland had to be constantly soldering to keep them tight. We
had a good soldering outfit. Every man carried his own personal bag,
in which he kept reserve clothing, diaries and observation books. We
took a quantity of loose straps for spare ski-bindings. We had double
sleeping-bags for the first part of the time; that is to say, an
inner and an outer one. There were five watches among us, of which
three were chronometer watches.

We had decided to cover the distance between 80° and 82° S. in daily
marches of seventeen miles. We could easily have done twice this,
but as it was more important to arrive than to show great speed,
we limited the distance; besides which, here between the depots we
had sufficient food to allow us to take our time. We were interested
in seeing how the dogs would manage the loaded sledges. We expected
them to do well, but not so well as they did.

On October 25 we left 80° S. with a light north-westerly breeze,
clear and mild. I was now to take up my position in advance of
the sledges, and placed myself a few paces in front of Hanssen’s,
with my ski pointing in the right direction. A last look behind me:
“All ready?” and away I went. I thought — no; I didn’t have time
to think. Before I knew anything about it, I was sent flying by the
dogs. In the confusion that ensued they stopped, luckily, so that
I escaped without damage, as far as that went. To tell the truth,
I was angry, but as I had sense enough to see that the situation,
already sufficiently comic, would be doubly ridiculous if I allowed
my annoyance to show itself, I wisely kept quiet. And, after all,
whose fault was it? I was really the only one to blame; why in the
world had I not got away faster? I now changed my plan entirely —
there is nothing to be ashamed of in that, I hope — and fell in with
the awkward squad; there I was more successful. “All ready? Go!” And
go they did. First Hanssen went off like a meteor; close behind him
came Wisting, and then Bjaaland and Hassel. They all had ski on, and
were driving with a line. I had made up my mind to follow in the rear,
as I thought the dogs would not keep this up for long, but I soon had
enough of it. We did the first six and a quarter miles in an hour. I
thought that would do for me, so I went up to Wisting, made a rope
fast to his sledge, and there I stood till we reached 85° 5′ S. —
three hundred and forty miles. Yes; that was a pleasant surprise. We
had never dreamed of anything of the sort — driving on ski to the
Pole! Thanks to Hanssen’s brilliant talents as a dog-driver, we could
easily do this. He had his dogs well in hand, and they knew their
master. They knew that the moment they failed to do their duty they
would be pulled up, and a hiding all round would follow. Of course,
as always happens, Nature occasionally got the better of discipline;
but the “confirmation” that resulted checked any repetition of such
conduct for a long while. The day’s march was soon completed in this
way, and we camped early.

On the following day we were already in sight of the large
pressure-ridges on the east, which we had seen for the first time
on the second depot journey between 81° and 82° S., and this showed
that the atmosphere must be very clear. We could not see any greater
number than the first time, however. From our experience of beacons
built of snow, we could see that if we built such beacons now, on
our way south, they would be splendid marks for our return journey;
we therefore decided to adopt this system of landmarks to the greatest
possible extent. We built in all 150 beacons, 6 feet high, and used in
their construction 9,000 blocks, cut out of the snow with specially
large snow-knives. In each of them was deposited a paper, giving the
number and position of the beacon, and indicating the distance and
the direction to be taken to reach the next beacon to the north. It
may appear that my prudence was exaggerated, but it always seemed
to me that one could not be too careful on this endless, uniform
surface. If we lost our way here, it would be difficult enough to
reach home. Besides which, the building of these beacons had other
advantages, which we could all see and appreciate. Every time we
stopped to build one, the dogs had a rest, and they wanted this,
if they were to keep up the pace.

We erected the first beacon in 80° 23′ S. To begin with, we contented
ourselves with putting them up at every thirteenth or fifteenth
kilometre. On the 29th we shot the first dog, Hanssen’s Bone. He was
too old to keep up, and was only a hindrance. He was placed in depot
under a beacon, and was a great joy to us — or rather to the dogs —
later on.

On the same day we reached the second important point — the depot
in 81° S. Our course took us very slightly to the east of it. The
small pieces of packing-case that had been used as marks on each
side of the depot could be seen a long way off. On a subsequent
examination they showed no sign of snowfall; they stood just as
they had been put in. In the neighbourhood of the depot we crossed
two quite respectable crevasses; they were apparently filled up, and
caused us no trouble. We reached the depot at 2 p.m.; everything was
in the best of order. The flag was flying, and hardly looked as if it
had been up a day, although it had now been waving there for nearly
eight months. The drifts round the depot were about 1 1/2 feet high.

The next day was brilliant — calm and clear. The sun really baked the
skin of one’s face. We put all our skin clothing out to dry; a little
rime will always form at the bottom of a sleeping-bag. We also availed
ourselves of this good opportunity to determine our position and check
our compasses; they proved to be correct. We replaced the provisions
we had consumed on the way, and resumed our journey on October 31.

There was a thick fog next morning, and very disagreeable weather;
perhaps we felt it more after the previous fine day. When we passed
this way for the first time going south, Hanssen’s dogs had fallen
into a crevasse, but it was nothing to speak of; otherwise we had
no trouble. Nor did we expect any this time; but in these regions
what one least expects frequently happens. The snow was loose and the
going heavy; from time to time we crossed a narrow crevasse. Once we
saw through the fog a large open hole; we could not have been very far
from it, or we should not have seen it, the weather was so thick. But
all went well till we had come thirteen and a half miles. Then Hanssen
had to cross a crevasse a yard wide, and in doing it he was unlucky
enough to catch the point of his ski in the traces of the hindmost
dogs, and fall right across the crevasse. This looked unpleasant. The
dogs were across, and a foot or two on the other side, but the sledge
was right over the crevasse, and had twisted as Hanssen fell, so that
a little more would bring it into line with the crevasse, and then,
of course, down it would go. The dogs had quickly scented the fact that
their lord and master was for the moment incapable of administering a
“confirmation,” and they did not let slip the golden opportunity. Like
a lot of roaring tigers, the whole team set upon each other and fought
till the hair flew. This naturally produced short, sharp jerks at the
traces, so that the sledge worked round more and more, and at the same
time the dogs, in the heat of the combat, were coming nearer and nearer
to the brink. If this went on, all was irretrievably lost. One of us
jumped the crevasse, went into the middle of the struggling team, and,
fortunately, got them to stop. At the same time, Wisting threw a line
to Hanssen and hauled him out of his unpleasant position — although,
I thought to myself, as we went on: I wonder whether Hanssen did not
enjoy the situation? Stretched across a giddy abyss, with the prospect
of slipping down it at any moment — that was just what he would
like. We secured the sledge, completed our seventeen miles, and camped.

From 81° S. we began to erect beacons at every nine kilometres. The
next day we observed the lowest temperature of the whole of this
journey: -30.1° F The wind was south-south-east, but not very
strong. It did not feel like summer, all the same. We now adopted the
habit which we kept up all the way to the south — of taking our lunch
while building the beacon that lay half-way in our day’s march. It
was nothing very luxurious — three or four dry oatmeal biscuits, that
was all. If one wanted a drink, one could mix snow with the biscuit —
“bread and water.” It is a diet that is not much sought after in our
native latitudes, but latitude makes a very great difference in this
world. It anybody had offered us more “bread and water,” we should
gladly have accepted it.

That day we crossed the last crevasse for a long time to come, and
it was only a few inches wide. The surface looked grand ahead of us;
it went in very long, almost imperceptible undulations. We could
only notice them by the way in which the beacons we put up often
disappeared rather rapidly.

On November 2 we had a gale from the south, with heavy snow. The
going was very stiff, but the dogs got the sledges along better than
we expected. The temperature rose, as usual, with a wind from this
quarter: +14° F. It was a pleasure to be out in such a temperature,
although it did blow a little. The day after we had a light breeze
from the north. The heavy going of the day before had completely
disappeared; instead of it we had the best surface one could desire,
and it made our dogs break into a brisk gallop. That was the day we
were to reach the depot in 82° S., but as it was extremely thick,
our chances of doing so were small. In the course of the afternoon
the distance was accomplished, but no depot was visible. However,
our range of vision was nothing to boast of — ten sledge-lengths;
not more. The most sensible thing to do, under the circumstances,
was to camp and wait till it cleared.

At four o’clock next morning the sun broke through. We let it get
warm and disperse the fog, and then went out. What a morning it
was — radiantly clear and mild. So still, so still lay the mighty
desert before us, level and white on every side. But, no; there
in the distance the level was broken: there was a touch of colour
on the white. The third important point was reached, the extreme
outpost of civilization. Our last depot lay before us; that was an
unspeakable relief. The victory now seemed half won. In the fog we
had come about three and a half miles too far to the west; but we now
saw that if we had continued our march the day before, we should have
come right into our line of flags. There they stood, flag after flag,
and the little strip of black cloth seemed to wave quite proudly,
as though it claimed credit for the way in which it had discharged
its duty. Here, as at the depot in 81° S., there was hardly a sign
of snowfall. The drift round the depot had reached the same height
as there — 1 1/2 feet. Clearly the same conditions of weather had
prevailed all over this region. The depot stood as we had made it,
and the sledge as we had left it. Falling snow and drift had not been
sufficient to cover even this. The little drift that there was offered
an excellent place for the tent, being hard and firm. We at once set
about the work that had to be done. First, Uranus was sent into the
next world, and although he had always given us the impression of
being thin and bony, it was now seen that there were masses of fat
along his back; he would be much appreciated when we reached here on
the return. Jaala did not look as if she would fulfil the conditions,
but we gave her another night. The dogs’ pemmican in the depot was just
enough to give the dogs a good feed and load up the sledges again. We
were so well supplied with all other provisions that we were able to
leave a considerable quantity behind for the return journey.

Next day we stayed here to give the dogs a thorough rest for the last
time. We took advantage of the fine weather to dry our outfit and
check our instruments. When evening came we were all ready, and now
we could look back with satisfaction to the good work of the autumn;
we had fully accomplished what we aimed at — namely, transferring our
base from 78° 38′ to 82° S. Jaala had to follow Uranus; they were both
laid on the top of the depot, beside eight little ones that never saw
the light of day. During our stay here we decided to build beacons
at every fifth kilometre, and to lay down depots at every degree of
latitude. Although the dogs were drawing the sledges easily at present,
we knew well enough that in the long-run they would find it hard work
if they were always to have heavy weights to pull. The more we could
get rid of, and the sooner we could begin to do so, the better.

On November 6, at 8 a.m., we left 82° S. Now the unknown lay before
us; now our work began in earnest. The appearance of the Barrier was
the same everywhere — flat, with a splendid surface. At the first
beacon we put up we had to shoot Lucy. We were sorry to put an end to
this beautiful creature, but there was nothing else to be done. Her
friends — Karenius, Sauen, and Schwartz — scowled up at the beacon
where she lay as they passed, but duty called, and the whip sang
dangerously near them, though they did not seem to hear it. We had
now extended our daily march to twenty-three miles; in this way we
should do a degree in three days.

On the 7th we decided to stop for a day’s rest. The dogs had been
picking up wonderfully every day, and were now at the top of their
condition, as far as health and training went. With the greatest ease
they covered the day’s march at a pace of seven and a half kilometres
(four miles and two-thirds) an hour. As for ourselves, we never had to
move a foot; all we had to do was to let ourselves be towed. The same
evening we had to put an end to the last of our ladies — Else. She
was Hassel’s pride and the ornament of his team; but there was no
help for it. She was also placed at the top of a beacon.

When we halted that evening in 82° 20′ S., we saw on the south-western
horizon several heavy masses of drab-coloured cloud, such as are
usually to be seen over land. We could make out no land that evening,
however; but when we came out next morning and directed our glasses
to that quarter, the land lay there, lofty and clear in the morning
sun. We were now able to distinguish several summits, and to determine
that this was the land extending south-eastward from Beardmore Glacier
in South Victoria Land. Our course had been true south all the time; at
this spot we were about 250 miles to the east of Beardmore Glacier. Our
course would continue to be true south.

The same evening — November 8 — we reached 83° S. by dead
reckoning. The noon altitude next day gave 83° 1′ S. The depot we
built here contained provisions for five men and twelve dogs for
four days; it was made square — 6 feet each way — of hard, solid
blocks of snow. A large flag was placed on the top. That evening a
strange thing happened — three dogs deserted, going northward on
our old tracks. They were Lucy’s favourites, and had probably taken
it into their heads that they ought to go back and look after their
friend. It was a great loss to us all, but especially to Bjaaland;
they were all three first-rate animals, and among the best we had. He
had to borrow a dog from Hanssen’s team, and if he did not go quite
so smoothly as before, he was still able to keep up.

On the 10th we got a bearing of the mountain chain right down in
south by west true. Each day we drew considerably nearer the land,
and could see more and more of its details: mighty peaks, each loftier
and wilder than the last, rose to heights of 15,000 feet. What struck
us all were the bare sides that many of these mountains showed; we had
expected to see them far more covered with snow. Mount Fridtjof Nansen,
for example, had quite a blue-black look. Only quite at the summit was
it crowned by a mighty hood of ice that raised its shining top to some
15,000 feet. Farther to the south rose Mount Don Pedro Christophersen;
it was more covered with snow, but the long, gabled summit was to a
great extent bare. Still farther south Mounts Alice Wedel Jarlsberg,
Alice Gade, and Ruth Gade, came in sight; all snow-clad from peak
to base. I do not think I have ever seen a more beautiful or wilder
landscape. Even from where we were, we seemed to be able to see a
way up from several places. There lay Liv’s Glacier,[1] for instance,
which would undoubtedly afford a good and even ascent, but it lay too
far to the north. It is of enormous extent, and would prove interesting
to explore. Crown Prince Olav’s Mountains looked less promising, but
they also lay too far to the north. A little to the west of south lay
an apparently good way up. The mountains nearest to the Barrier did not
seem to offer any great obstruction. What one might find later, between
Mounts Pedro Christophersen and Fridtjof Nansen, was not easy to say.

On the 12th we reached 84° S. On that day we made the interesting
discovery of a chain of mountains running to the east; this, as it
appeared from the spot where we were, formed a semicircle, where it
joined the mountains of South Victoria Land. This semicircle lay true
south, and our course was directed straight towards it.

In the depot in 84° S. we left, besides the usual quantity of
provisions for five men and twelve dogs for four days, a can of
paraffin, holding 17 litres (about 34 gallons). We had abundance of
matches, and could therefore distribute them over all the depots. The
Barrier continued as flat as before, and the going was as good as it
could possibly be. We had thought that a day’s rest would be needed by
the dogs for every degree of latitude, but this proved superfluous;
it looked as if they could no longer be tired. One or two had shown
signs of bad feet, but were now perfectly well; instead of losing
strength, the dogs seemed to become stronger and more active every
day. Now they, too, had sighted the land, and the black mass of Mount
Fridtjof Nansen seemed specially to appeal to them; Hanssen often had
hard work to keep them in the right course. Without any longer stay,
then, we left 84° S. the next day, and steered for the bay ahead.

That day we went twenty-three miles in thick fog, and saw nothing
of the land. It was hard to have to travel thus blindly off an
unknown coast, but we could only hope for better weather. During the
previous night we had heard, for a change, a noise in the ice. It was
nothing very great, and sounded like scattered infantry fire — a few
rifle-shots here and there underneath our tent; the artillery had not
come up yet. We took no notice of it, though I heard one man say in
the morning: “Blest if I didn’t think I got a whack on the ear last
night.” I could witness that it had not cost him his sleep, as that
night he had very nearly snored us all out of the tent. During the
forenoon we crossed a number of apparently newly-formed crevasses;
most of them only about an inch wide. There had thus been a small
local disturbance occasioned by one of the numerous small glaciers
on land. On the following night all was quiet again, and we never
afterwards heard the slightest sound.

On November 14 we reached 84° 40′ S. We were now rapidly
approaching land; the mountain range on the east appeared to turn
north-eastward. Our line of ascent, which we had chosen long ago
and now had our eyes fixed upon as we went, would take us a trifle
to the west of south, but so little that the digression was of no
account. The semicircle we saw to the south made a more disquieting
impression, and looked as if it would offer great irregularities. On
the following day the character of the surface began to change;
great wave-like formations seemed to roll higher and higher as they
approached the land, and in one of the troughs of these we found
the surface greatly disturbed. At some bygone time immense fissures
and chasms would have rendered its passage practically impossible,
but now they were all drifted up, and we had no difficulty in crossing.

That day — November 15 — we reached 85° S., and camped at the top of
one of these swelling waves. The valley we were to cross next day was
fairly broad, and rose considerably on the other side. On the west,
in the direction of the nearest land, the undulation rose to such
a height that it concealed a great part of the land from us. During
the afternoon we built the usual depot, and continued our journey on
the following day. As we had seen from our camping-ground, it was
an immense undulation that we had to traverse; the ascent on the
other side felt uncomfortably warm in the powerful sun, but it was
no higher than 300 feet by the aneroid. From the top of this wave
the Barrier stretched away before us, flat at first, but we could see
disturbances of the surface in the distance. Now we are going to have
some fun in getting to land, I thought, for it seemed very natural that
the Barrier, hemmed in as it was here, would be much broken up. The
disturbances we had seen consisted of some big, old crevasses, which
were partly filled up; we avoided them easily. Now there was another
deep depression before us; with a correspondingly high rise on the
other side. We went over it capitally; the surface was absolutely
smooth, without a sign of fissure or hole anywhere. Then we shall
get them when we are on the top, I thought. It was rather stiff work
uphill, unaccustomed as we were to slopes. I stretched my neck more
and more to get a view. At last we were up; and what a sight it was
that met us! Not an irregularity, not a sign of disturbance; quietly
and evenly the ascent continued. I believe that we were then already
above land; the large crevasses that we had avoided down below probably
formed the boundary. The hypsometer gave 930 feet above the sea.

We were now immediately below the ascent, and made the final decision
of trying it here. This being settled, we pitched our camp. It was
still early in the day, but we had a great deal to arrange before the
morrow. Here we should have to overhaul our whole supply of provisions,
take with us what was absolutely necessary for the remainder of the
trip, and leave the rest behind in depot. First, then, we camped,
worked out our position, fed the dogs and let them loose again, and
then went into our tent to have something to eat and go through the
provision books.

We had now reached one of the most critical points of our journey. Our
plan had now to be laid so that we might not only make the ascent as
easily as possible, but also get through to the end. Our calculations
had to be made carefully, and every possibility taken into account. As
with every decision of importance, we discussed the matter jointly. The
distance we had before us, from this spot to the Pole and back, was
683 miles. Reckoning with the ascent that we saw before us, with other
unforeseen obstructions, and finally with the certain factor that
the strength of our dogs would be gradually reduced to a fraction of
what it now was, we decided to take provisions and equipment for sixty
days on the sledges, and to leave the remaining supplies — enough for
thirty days — and outfit in depot. We calculated, from the experience
we had had, that we ought to be able to reach this point again with
twelve dogs left. We now had forty-two dogs. Our plan was to take
all the forty-two up to the plateau; there twenty-four of them were
to be slaughtered, and the journey continued with three sledges and
eighteen dogs. Of these last eighteen, it would be necessary, in our
opinion, to slaughter six in order to bring the other twelve back to
this point. As the number of dogs grew less, the sledges would become
lighter and lighter, and when the time came for reducing their number
to twelve, we should only have two sledges left. This time again our
calculations came out approximately right; it was only in reckoning
the number of days that we made a little mistake — we took eight
days less than the time allowed. The number of dogs agreed exactly;
we reached this point again with twelve.

After the question had been well discussed and each had given his
opinion, we went out to get the repacking done. It was lucky the
weather was so fine, otherwise this taking stock of provisions might
have been a bitter piece of work. All our supplies were in such a
form that we could count them instead of weighing them. Our pemmican
was in rations of 2 kilogram (1 pound 12 ounces). The chocolate was
divided into small pieces, as chocolate always is, so that we knew what
each piece weighed. Our milk-powder was put up in bags of 102 ounces
just enough for a meal. Our biscuits possessed the same property —
they could be counted, but this was a tedious business, as they were
rather small. On this occasion we had to count 6,000 biscuits. Our
provisions consisted only of these four kinds, and the combination
turned out right enough. We did not suffer from a craving either for
fat or sugar, though the want of these substances is very commonly
felt on such journeys as ours. In our biscuits we had an excellent
product, consisting of oatmeal, sugar, and dried milk. Sweetmeats,
jam, fruit, cheese, etc., we had left behind at Framheim.

We took our reindeer-skin clothing, for which we had had no use as yet,
on the sledges. We were now coming on to the high ground, and it might
easily happen that it would be a good thing to have. We did not forget
the temperature of -40° F. that Shackleton had experienced in 88° S.,
and if we met with the same, we could hold out a long while if we had
the skin clothing. Otherwise, we had not very much in our bags. The
only change we had with us was put on here, and the old clothes hung
out to air. We reckoned that by the time we came back, in a couple
of months, they would be sufficiently aired, and we could put them
on again. As far as I remember, the calculation proved correct. We
took more foot-gear than anything else: if one’s feet are well shod,
one can hold out a long time.

When all this was finished, three of us put on our ski and made
for the nearest visible land. This was a little peak, a mile and
three-quarters away — Mount Betty. It did not look lofty or imposing,
but was, nevertheless, 1,000 feet above the sea. Small as it was,
it became important to us, as it was there we got all our geological
specimens. Running on ski felt quite strange, although I had now
covered 385 miles on them; but we had driven the whole way, and were
somewhat out of training. We could feel this, too, as we went up
the slope that afternoon. After Mount Betty the ascent became rather
steep, but the surface was even, and the going splendid, so we got on
fast. First we came up a smooth mountain-side, about 1,200 feet above
the sea, then over a little plateau; after that another smooth slope
like the first, and then down a rather long, flat stretch, which
after a time began to rise very gradually, until it finally passed
into small glacier formations. Our reconnaissance extended to these
small glaciers. We had ascertained that the way was practicable,
as far as we were able to see; we had gone about five and a half
miles from the tent, and ascended 2,000 feet. On the way back we went
gloriously; the last two slopes down to the Barrier gave us all the
speed we wanted. Bjaaland and I had decided to take a turn round by
Mount Betty for the sake of having real bare ground under our feet;
we had not felt it since Madeira in September, 1910, and now we were
in November, 1911. No sooner said than done. Bjaaland prepared for
an elegant “Telemark swing,” and executed it in fine style. 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.

Mount Betty offered no perpendicular crags or deep precipices to
stimulate our desire for climbing; we only had to take off our ski,
and then we arrived at the top. It consisted of loose screes, and
was not an ideal promenade for people who had to be careful of their
boots. It was a pleasure to set one’s foot on bare ground again,
and we sat down on the rocks to enjoy the scene. The rocks very soon
made themselves felt, however, and brought us to our feet again. We
photographed each other in “picturesque attitudes,” took a few stones
for those who had not yet set foot on bare earth, and strapped on our
ski. The dogs, after having been so eager to make for bare land when
they first saw it, were now not the least interested in it; they lay on
the snow, and did not go near the top. Between the bare ground and the
snow surface there was bright, blue-green ice, showing that at times
there was running water here. The dogs did what they could to keep
up with us on the way down, but they were soon left behind. On our
return, we surprised our comrades with presents from the country, but
I fear they were not greatly appreciated. I could hear such words as,
“Norway-stones — heaps of them,” and I was able to put them together
and understand what was meant. The “presents” were put in depot,
as not absolutely indispensable on the southern journey.

By this time the dogs had already begun to be very
voracious. Everything that came in their way disappeared; whips,
ski-bindings, lashings, etc., were regarded as delicacies. If one
put down anything for a moment, it vanished. With some of them this
voracity went so far that we had to chain them.


Through the Mountains

On the following day — November 17 — we began the ascent. To provide
for any contingency, I left in the depot a paper with information of
the way we intended to take through the mountains, together with our
plan for the future, our outfit, provisions, etc. The weather was fine,
as usual, and the going good. The dogs exceeded our expectations;
they negotiated the two fairly steep slopes at a jog-trot. We began
to think there was no difficulty they could not surmount; the five
miles or so that we had gone the day before, and imagined would be
more than enough for this day’s journey, were now covered with full
loads in shorter time. The small glaciers higher up turned out fairly
steep, and in some places we had to take two sledges at a time with
double teams. These glaciers had an appearance of being very old,
and of having entirely ceased to move. There were no new crevasses to
be seen; those that there were, were large and wide, but their edges
were rounded off everywhere, and the crevasses themselves were almost
entirely filled with snow. So as not to fall into these on the return,
we erected our beacons in such a way that the line between any two
of them would take us clear of any danger. It was no use working in
Polar clothing among these hills; the sun, which stood high and clear,
was uncomfortably warm, and we were obliged to take off most of our
things. We passed several summits from 3,000 to 7,000 feet high;
the snow on one of them had quite a reddish-brown tint.

Our distance this first day was eleven and a half miles, with a rise of
2,000 feet. Our camp that evening lay on a little glacier among huge
crevasses; on three sides of us were towering summits. When we had
set our tent, two parties went out to explore the way in advance. One
party — Wisting and Hanssen — took the way that looked easiest from
the tent — namely, the course of the glacier; it here rose rapidly
to 4,000 feet, and disappeared in a south-westerly direction between
two peaks. Bjaaland formed the other party. He evidently looked upon
this ascent as too tame, and started up the steepest part of the
mountain — side. I saw him disappear up aloft like a fly. Hassel
and I attended to the necessary work round about and in the tent.

We were sitting inside chatting, when we suddenly heard someone come
swishing down towards the tent. We looked at each other; that fellow
had some pace on. We had no doubt as to who it was — Bjaaland, of
course. He must have gone off to refresh old memories. He had a lot
to tell us; amongst other things, he had found “the finest descent”
on the other side. What he meant by “fine” I was not certain. If it
was as fine as the ascent he had made, then I asked to be excused. We
now heard the others coming, and these we could hear a long way
off. They had also seen a great deal, not to mention “the finest
descent.” But both parties agreed in the mournful intelligence that
we should have to go down again. They had both observed the immense
glacier that stretched beneath us running east and west. A lengthy
discussion took place between the two parties, who mutually scorned
each other’s “discoveries.” “Yes; but look here, Bjaaland, we could
see that from where you were standing there’s a sheer drop — ” —
“You couldn’t see me at all. I tell you I was to the west of the peak
that lies to the south of the peak that” I gave up trying to follow
the discussion any longer. The way in which the different parties had
disappeared and come in sight again gave me every reason to decide
in favour of the route the last arrivals had taken. I thanked these
keen gentlemen for their strenuous ramble in the interests of the
expedition, and went straight off to sleep. I dreamed of mountains
and precipices all night, and woke up with Bjaaland whizzing down
from the sky. I announced once more that I had made up my mind for
the other course, and went to sleep again.

We debated next morning whether it would not be better to take the
sledges two by two to begin with; the glacier before us looked quite
steep enough to require double teams. It had a rise of 2,000 feet
in quite a short distance. But we would try first with the single
teams. The dogs had shown that their capabilities were far above
our expectation; perhaps they would be able to do even this. We
crept off: The ascent began at once — good exercise after a quart
of chocolate. We did not get on fast, but we won our way. It often
looked as if the sledge would stop, but a shout from the driver and
a sharp crack of the whip kept the dogs on the move. It was a fine
beginning to the day, and we gave them a well-deserved rest when we
got up. We then drove in through the narrow pass and out on the other
side. It was a magnificent panorama that opened before us. From the
pass we had come out on to a very small flat terrace, which a few
yards farther on began to drop steeply to a long valley. Round about
us lay summit after summit on every side. We had now come behind the
scenes, and could get our bearings better. We now saw the southern
side of the immense Mount Nansen; Don Pedro Christophersen we could
see in his full length. Between these two mountains we could follow
the course of a glacier that rose in terraces along their sides. It
looked fearfully broken and disturbed, but we could follow a little
connected line among the many crevasses; we saw that we could go a
long way, but we also saw that the glacier forbade us to use it in
its full extent. Between the first and second terraces the ice was
evidently impassable. But we could see that there was an unbroken
ledge up on the side of the mountain; Don Pedro would help us out. On
the north along the Nansen Mountain there was nothing but chaos,
perfectly impossible to get through. We put up a big beacon where we
were standing, and took bearings from it all round the compass.

I went back to the pass to look out over the Barrier for the
last time. The new mountain chain lay there sharp and clear; we
could see how it turned from the east up to east-north-east, and
finally disappeared in the north-east — as we judged, about 84°
S. From the look of the sky, it appeared that the chain was continued
farther. According to the aneroid, the height of the terrace on which
we stood was 4,000 feet above the sea. From here there was only one
way down, and we began to go. In making these descents with loaded
sledges, one has to use the greatest care, lest the speed increase
to such a degree that one loses command over the sledge. If this
happens, there is a danger, not only of running over the dogs, but of
colliding with the sledge in front and smashing it. This was all the
more important in our case, as the sledges carried sledge-meters. We
therefore put brakes of rope under our runners when we were to go
downhill. This was done very simply by taking a few turns with a thin
piece of rope round each runner; the more of these turns one took,
the more powerful, of course, was the brake. The art consisted in
choosing the right number of turns, or the right brake; this was not
always attained, and the consequence was that, before we had come
to the end of these descents, there were several collisions. One
of the drivers, in particular, seemed to have a supreme contempt
for a proper brake; he would rush down like a flash of lightning,
and carry the man in front with him. With practice we avoided this,
but several times things had an ugly look.

The first drop took us down 800 feet; then we had to cross a wide,
stiff piece of valley before the ascent began again. The snow between
the mountains was loose and deep, and gave the dogs hard work. The next
ascent was up very steep glaciers, the last of which was the steepest
bit of climbing we had on the whole journey — stiff work even for
double teams. Going in front of the dogs up these slopes was, I could
see, a business that Bjaaland would accomplish far more satisfactorily
than I, and I gave up the place to him. The first glacier was steep,
but the second was like the side of a house. It was a pleasure to watch
Bjaaland use his ski up there; one could see that he had been up a hill
before. Nor was it less interesting to see the dogs and the drivers go
up. Hanssen drove one sledge alone; Wisting and Hassel the other. They
went by jerks, foot by foot, and ended by reaching the top. The second
relay went somewhat more easily in the tracks made by the first.

Our height here was 4,550 feet, the last ascent having brought us
up 1,250 feet; we had arrived on a plateau, and after the dogs had
rested we continued our march. Now, as we advanced, we had a better
view of the way we were going; before this the nearest mountains had
shut us in. The mighty glacier opened out before us, stretching, as we
could now see, right up from the Barrier between the lofty mountains
running east and west. It was by this glacier that we should have to
gain the plateau; we could see that. We had one more descent to make
before reaching it, and from above we could distinguish the edges
of some big gaps in this descent, and found it prudent to examine it
first. As we thought, there was a side-glacier coming down into it,
with large, ugly crevasses in many places; but it was not so bad as
to prevent our finally reaching, with caution and using good brakes,
the great main ice-field — Axel Heiberg Glacier. The plan we had
proposed to ourselves was to work our way up to the place where the
glacier rose in abrupt masses between the two mountains. The task
we had undertaken was greater than we thought. In the first place,
the distance was three times as great as any of us had believed;
and, in the second place, the snow was so loose and deep that it was
hard work for the dogs after all their previous efforts. We set our
course along the white line that we had been able to follow among
the numerous crevasses right up to the first terrace. Here tributary
glaciers came down on all sides from the mountains and joined the main
one; it was one of these many small arms that we reached that evening,
directly under Don Pedro Christophersen.

The mountain below which we had our camp was covered with a chaos of
immense blocks of ice. The glacier on which we were was much broken
up, but, as with all the others, the fissures were of old date, and,
to a large extent, drifted up. The snow was so loose that we had to
trample a place for the tent, and we could push the tent-pole right
down without meeting resistance; probably it would be better higher
up. In the evening Hanssen and Bjaaland went out to reconnoitre, and
found the conditions as we had seen them from a distance. The way up
to the first terrace was easily accessible; what the conditions would
be like between this and the second terrace we had still to discover.

It was stiff work next day getting up to the first terrace. The arm
of the glacier that led up was not very long, but extremely steep
and full of big crevasses; it had to be taken in relays, two sledges
at a time. The state of the going was, fortunately, better than on
the previous day, and the surface of the glacier was fine and hard,
so that the dogs got a splendid hold. Bjaaland went in advance up
through this steep glacier, and had his work cut out to keep ahead of
the eager animals. One would never have thought we were between 85°
and 86° S.; the heat was positively disagreeable, and, although lightly
clad, we sweated as if we were running races in the tropics. We were
ascending rapidly, but, in spite of the sudden change of pressure,
we did not yet experience any difficulty of breathing, headache,
or other unpleasant results. That these sensations would make their
appearance in due course was, however, a matter of which we could
be certain. Shackleton’s description of his march on the plateau,
when headache of the most violent and unpleasant kind was the order
of the day, was fresh in the memory of all of us.

In a comparatively short time we reached the ledge in the glacier
that we had noticed a long way off; it was not quite flat, but sloped
slightly towards the edge. When we came to the place to which Hanssen
and Bjaaland had carried their reconnaissance on the previous evening,
we had a very fine prospect of the further course of the glacier. To
continue along it was an impossibility; it consisted here — between
the two vast mountains — of nothing but crevasse after crevasse,
so huge and ugly that we were forced to conclude that our further
advance that way was barred. Over by Fridtjof Nansen we could not
go; this mountain here rose perpendicularly, in parts quite bare,
and formed with the glacier a surface so wild and cut up that
all thoughts of crossing the ice-field in that direction had to be
instantly abandoned. Our only chance lay in the direction of Don Pedro
Christophersen; here, so far as we could see, the connection of the
glacier and the land offered possibilities of further progress. Without
interruption the glacier was merged in the snow-clad mountain-side,
which rose rapidly towards the partially bare summit. Our view,
however, did not extend very far. The first part of the mountain-side
was soon bounded by a lofty ridge running east and west, in which
we could see huge gaps here and there. From the place where we were
standing, we had the impression that we should be able to continue our
course up there under the ridge between these gaps, and thus come out
beyond the disturbed tract of glacier. We might possibly succeed in
this, but we could not be certain until we were up on the ridge itself.

We took a little rest — it was not a long one — and then started. We
were impatient to see whether we could get forward up above. There
could be no question of reaching the height without double teams;
first we had to get Hanssen’s and Wisting’s sledges up, and then
the two others. We were not particularly keen on thus covering the
ground twice, but the conditions made it imperative. We should have
been pleased just then if we had known that this was to be the last
ascent that would require double teams; but we did not know this,
and it was more than any of us dared to hope. The same hard work, and
the same trouble to keep the dogs at an even pace, and then we were
up under the ridge amongst the open chasms. To go farther without a
careful examination of the ground was not to be thought of. Doubtless,
our day’s march had not been a particularly long one, but the piece
we had covered had indeed been fatiguing enough. We therefore camped,
and set our tent at an altitude of 5,650 feet above the sea.

We at once proceeded to reconnoitre, and the first thing to be
examined was the way we had seen from below. This led in the right
direction — that is, in the direction of the glacier, east and west
— and was thus the shortest. But it is not always the shortest way
that is the best; here, in any case, it was to be hoped that another
and longer one would offer better conditions. The shortest way was
awful — possibly not altogether impracticable, if no better was to
be found. First we had to work our way across a hard, smooth slope,
which formed an angle of 45 degrees, and ended in a huge, bottomless
chasm. It was no great pleasure to cross over here on ski, but with
heavily-laden sledges the enjoyment would be still less. The prospect
of seeing sledge, driver, and dogs slide down sideways and disappear
into the abyss was a great one. We got across with whole skins on
ski, and continued our exploration. The mountain-side along which
we were advancing gradually narrowed between vast fissures above and
vaster fissures below, and finally passed by a very narrow bridge —
hardly broader than the sledges — into the glacier. On each side of
the bridge, one looked down into a deep blue chasm. To cross here did
not look very inviting; no doubt we could take the dogs out and haul
the sledges over, and thus manage it — presuming the bridge held —
but our further progress, which would have to be made on the glacier,
would apparently offer many surprises of an unpleasant kind. It was
quite possible that, with time and patience, one would be able to
tack through the apparently endless succession of deep crevasses;
but we should first have to see whether something better than this
could not be found in another direction. We therefore returned to camp.

Here in the meantime everything had been put in order, the tent set
up, and the dogs fed. Now came the great question: What was there on
the other side of the ridge? Was it the same desperate confusion,
or would the ground offer better facilities? Three of us went off
to see. Excitement rose as we neared the saddle; so much depended on
finding a reasonable way. One more pull and we were up; it was worth
the trouble. The first glance showed us that this was the way we had to
go. The mountain-side ran smooth and even under the lofty summit-like a
gabled church tower — of Mount Don Pedro Christophersen, and followed
the direction of the glacier. We could see the place where this long,
even surface united with the glacier; to all appearance it was free
from disturbance. We saw some crevasses, of course, but they were far
apart, and did not give us the idea that they would be a hindrance. But
we were still too far from the spot to be able to draw any certain
conclusions as to the character of the ground; we therefore set off
towards the bottom to examine the conditions more closely. The surface
was loose up here, and the snow fairly deep; our ski slipped over it
well, but it would be heavy for dogs. We advanced rapidly, and soon
came to the huge crevasses. They were big enough and deep enough, but
so scattered that, without much trouble, we could find a way between
them. The hollow between the two mountains, which was filled by the
Heiberg Glacier, grew narrower and narrower towards the end, and,
although appearances were still very pleasant, I expected to find some
disturbance when we arrived at the point where the mountain-side passed
into the glacier. But my fears proved groundless; by keeping right
under Don Pedro we went clear of all trouble, and in a short time,
to our great joy, we found ourselves above and beyond that chaotic
part of the Heiberg Glacier which had completely barred our progress.

Up here all was strangely peaceful; the mountain-side and the glacier
united in a great flat terrace — a plain, one might call it —
without disturbance of any kind. We could see depressions in the
surface where the huge crevasses had formerly existed, but now they
were entirely filled up, and formed one with the surrounding level. We
could now see right to the end of this mighty glacier, and form some
idea of its proportions. Mount Wilhelm Christophersen and Mount Ole
Engelstad formed the end of it; these two beehive-shaped summits,
entirely covered with snow, towered high into the sky. We understood
now that the last of the ascent was before us, and that what we saw
in the distance between these two mountains was the great plateau
itself. The question, then, was to find a way up, and to conquer
this last obstruction in the easiest manner. In the radiantly clear
air we could see the smallest details with our excellent prismatic
glasses, and make our calculations with great confidence. It would
be possible to clamber up Don Pedro himself; we had done things as
difficult before. But here the side of the mountain was fairly steep,
and full of big crevasses and a fearful quantity of gigantic blocks
of ice. Between Don Pedro and Wilhelm Christophersen an arm of the
glacier went up on to the plateau, but it was so disturbed and broken
up that it could not be used. Between Wilhelm Christophersen and Ole
Engelstad there was no means of getting through. Between Ole Engelstad
and Fridtjof Nansen, on the other hand, it looked more promising,
but as yet the first of these mountains obstructed our view so much
that we could not decide with certainty. We were all three rather
tired, but agreed to continue our excursion, and find out what was
here concealed. Our work to-day would make our progress to-morrow so
much the easier. We therefore went on, and laid our course straight
over the topmost flat terrace of the Heiberg Glacier. As we advanced,
the ground between Nansen and Engelstad opened out more and more, and
without going any farther we were able to decide from the formations
that here we should undoubtedly find the best way up. If the final
ascent at the end of the glacier, which was only partly visible,
should present difficulties, we could make out from where we stood
that it would be possible, without any great trouble, to work our way
over the upper end of the Nansen Mountain itself, which here passed
into the plateau by a not too difficult glacier. Yes, now we were
certain that it was indeed the great plateau and nothing else that we
saw before us. In the pass between the two mountains, and some little
distance within the plateau, Helland Hansen showed up, a very curious
peak to look at. It seemed to stick its nose up through the plateau,
and no more; its shape was long, and it reminded one of nothing so
much as the ridge of a roof. Although this peak was thus only just
visible, it stood 11,000 feet above the sea.

After we had examined the conditions here, and found out that on
the following day — if the weather permitted — we should reach the
plateau, we turned back, well satisfied with the result of our trip. We
all agreed that we were tired, and longing to reach camp and get some
food. The place where we turned was, according to the aneroid, 8,000
feet above the sea; we were therefore 2,500 feet higher than our tent
down on the hill-side. Going down in our old tracks was easier work,
though the return journey was somewhat monotonous. In many places the
slope was rapid, and not a few fine runs were made. On approaching
our camping-ground we had the sharpest descent, and here, reluctant
as we might be, we found it wiser to put both our poles together and
form a strong brake. We came down smartly enough, all the same. It
was a grand and imposing sight we had when we came out on the ridge
under which — far below — our tent stood. Surrounded on all sides by
huge crevasses and gaping chasms, it could not be said that the site
of our camp looked very inviting. The wildness of the landscape seen
from this point is not to be described; chasm after chasm, crevasse
after crevasse, with great blocks of ice scattered promiscuously about,
gave one the impression that here Nature was too powerful for us. Here
no progress was to be thought of.

It was not without a certain satisfaction that we stood there and
contemplated the scene. The little dark speck down there — our
tent — in the midst of this chaos, gave us a feeling of strength
and power. We knew in our hearts that the ground would have to be
ugly indeed if we were not to manoeuvre our way across it and find a
place for that little home of ours. Crash upon crash, roar upon roar,
met our ears. Now it was a shot from Mount Nansen, now from one of the
others; we could see the clouds of snow rise high into the air. It was
evident that these mountains were throwing off their winter mantles
and putting on a more spring-like garb.

We came at a tearing pace down to the tent, where our companions had
everything in most perfect order. The dogs lay snoring in the heat
of the sun, and hardly condescended to move when we came scudding
in among them. Inside the tent a regular tropical heat prevailed;
the sun was shining directly on to the red cloth and warming it. The
Primus hummed and hissed, and the pemmican-pot bubbled and spurted. We
desired nothing better in the world than to get in, fling ourselves
down, eat, and drink. The news we brought was no trifling matter —
the plateau to-morrow. It sounded almost too good to be true; we
had reckoned that it would take us ten days to get up, and now we
should do it in four. In this way we saved a great deal of dog food,
as we should be able to slaughter the superfluous animals six days
earlier than we had calculated. It was quite a little feast that
evening in the tent; not that we had any more to eat than usual —
we could not allow ourselves that — but the thought of the fresh
dog cutlets that awaited us when we got to the top made our mouths
water. In course of time we had so habituated ourselves to the idea
of the approaching slaughter that this event did not appear to us
so horrible as it would otherwise have done. Judgment had already
been pronounced, and the selection made of those who were worthy of
prolonged life and those who were to be sacrificed. This had been,
I may add, a difficult problem to solve, so efficient were they all.

The rumblings continued all night, and one avalanche after another
exposed parts of the mountain-sides that had been concealed from
time immemorial. The following day, November 20, we were up and away
at the usual time, about 8 a.m. The weather was splendid, calm and
clear. Getting up over the saddle was a rough beginning of the day
for our dogs, and they gave a good account of themselves, pulling
the sledges up with single teams this time. The going was heavy,
as on the preceding day, and our advance through the loose snow was
not rapid. We did not follow our tracks of the day before, but laid
our course directly for the place where we had decided to attempt the
ascent. As we approached Mount Ole Engelstad, under which we had to
pass in order to come into the arm of the glacier between it and Mount
Nansen, our excitement began to rise. What does the end look like? Does
the glacier go smoothly on into the plateau, or is it broken up and
impassable? We rounded Mount Engelstad more and more; wider and wider
grew the opening. The surface looked extremely good as it gradually
came into view, and it did not seem as though our assumption of the
previous day would be put to shame. At last the whole landscape opened
out, and without obstruction of any kind whatever the last part of the
ascent lay before us. It was both long and steep from the look of it,
and we agreed to take a little rest before beginning the final attack.

We stopped right under Mount Engelstad in a warm and sunny place,
and allowed ourselves on this occasion a little lunch, an indulgence
that had not hitherto been permitted. The cooking-case was taken out,
and soon the Primus was humming in a way that told us it would not
be long before the chocolate was ready. It was a heavenly treat, that
drink. We had all walked ourselves warm, and our throats were as dry
as tinder. The contents of the pot were served round by the cook —
Hanssen. It was no use asking him to share alike; he could not be
persuaded to take more than half of what was due to him — the rest he
had to divide among his comrades. The drink he had prepared this time
was what he called chocolate, but I had some difficulty in believing
him. He was economical, was Hanssen, and permitted no extravagance;
that could be seen very well by his chocolate. Well, after all, to
people who were accustomed to regard “bread and water” as a luxury,
it tasted, as I have said, heavenly. It was the liquid part of the
lunch that was served extra; if anyone wanted something to eat, he
had to provide it himself — nothing was offered him. Happy was he
who had saved some biscuits from his breakfast! Our halt was not a
very long one. It is a queer thing that, when one only has on light
underclothing and windproof overalls, one cannot stand still for long
without feeling cold. Although the temperature was no lower than -4°
F., we were glad to be on the move again. The last ascent was fairly
hard work, especially the first half of it. We never expected to
do it with single teams, but tried it all the same. For this last
pull up I must give the highest praise both to the dogs and their
drivers; it was a brilliant performance on both sides. I can still
see the situation clearly before me. The dogs seemed positively
to understand that this was the last big effort that was asked of
them; they lay flat down and hauled, dug their claws in and dragged
themselves forward. But they had to stop and get breath pretty often,
and then the driver’s strength was put to the test. It is no child’s
play to set a heavily-laden sledge in motion time after time. How they
toiled, men and beasts, up that slope! But they got on, inch by inch,
until the steepest part was behind them. Before them lay the rest
of the ascent in a gentle rise, up which they could drive without a
stop. It was stiff, nevertheless, and it took a long time before we
were all up on the plateau on the southern side of Mount Engelstad.

We were very curious and anxious to see what the plateau
looked. like. We had expected a great, level plain,
extending boundlessly towards the south; but in this we were
disappointed. Towards the south-west it looked very level and fine,
but that was not the way we had to go. Towards the south the ground
continued to rise in long ridges running east and west, probably a
continuation of the mountain chain running to the south-east, or a
connection between it and the plateau. We stubbornly continued our
march; we would not give in until we had the plain itself before
us. Our hope was that the ridge projecting from Mount Don Pedro
Christophersen would be the last; we now had it before us. The
going changed at once up here; the loose snow disappeared, and a few
wind-waves (sastrugi) began to show themselves. These were specially
unpleasant to deal with on this last ridge; they lay from south-east
to north-west, and were as hard as flints and as sharp as knives. A
fall among them might have had very serious consequences. One would
have thought the dogs had had enough work that day to tire them,
but this last ridge, with its unpleasant snow-waves, did not seem
to trouble them in the least. We all drove up gaily, towed by the
sledges, on to what looked to us like the final plateau, and halted
at 8 p.m. The weather had held fine, and we could apparently see
a very long way. In the far distance, extending to the north-west,
rose peak after peak; this was the chain of mountains running to the
south-east, which we now saw from the other side. In our own vicinity,
on the other band, we saw nothing but the backs of the mountains so
frequently mentioned. We afterwards learned how deceptive the light
can be. I consulted the aneroid immediately on our arrival at the
camping-ground, and it showed 10,920 feet above the sea, which the
hypsometer afterwards confirmed. All the sledge-meters gave seventeen
geographical miles, or thirty-one kilometres (nineteen and a quarter
statute miles). This day’s work — nineteen and a quarter miles,
with an ascent of 5,750 feet — gives us some idea of what can be
performed by dogs in good training. Our sledges still had what might
be considered heavy loads; it seems superfluous to give the animals
any other testimonial than the bare fact.

It was difficult to find a place for the tent, so hard was the snow
up here. We found one, however, and set the tent. Sleeping-bags
and kit-bags were handed in to me, as usual, through the tent-door,
and I arranged everything inside. The cooking-case and the necessary
provisions for that evening and the next morning were also passed in;
but the part of my work that went more quickly than usual that night
was getting the Primus started, and pumping it up to high-pressure. I
was hoping thereby to produce enough noise to deaden the shots that I
knew would soon be heard — twenty-four of our brave companions and
faithful helpers were marked out for death. It was hard — but it
had to be so. We had agreed to shrink from nothing in order to reach
our goal. Each man was to kill his own dogs to the number that had
been fixed.

The pemmican was cooked remarkably quickly that evening, and I believe
I was unusually industrious in stirring it. There went the first shot
— I am not a nervous man, but I must admit that I gave a start. Shot
now followed upon shot — they had an uncanny sound over the great
plain. A trusty servant lost his life each time. It was long before
the first man reported that he had finished; they were all to open
their dogs, and take out the entrails to prevent the meat being
contaminated. The entrails were for the most part devoured warm on
the spot by the victims’ comrades, so voracious were they all. Suggen,
one of Wisting’s dogs, was especially eager for warm entrails; after
enjoying this luxury, he could be seen staggering about in a quite
misshapen condition. Many of the dogs would not touch them at first,
but their appetite came after a while.

The holiday humour that ought to have prevailed in the tent that
evening — our first on the plateau — did not make its appearance;
there was depression and sadness in the air — we had grown so fond
of our dogs. The place was named the “Butcher’s Shop.” It had been
arranged that we should stop here two days to rest and eat dog. There
was more than one among us who at first would not hear of taking any
part in this feast; but as time went by, and appetites became sharper,
this view underwent a change, until, during the last few days before
reaching the Butcher’s Shop, we all thought and talked of nothing
but dog cutlets, dog steaks, and the like. But on this first evening
we put a restraint on ourselves; we thought we could not fall upon
our four-footed friends and devour them before they had had time to
grow cold.

We quickly found out that the Butcher’s Shop was not a hospitable
locality. During the night the temperature sank, and violent gusts
of wind swept over the plain; they shook and tore at the tent, but
it would take more than that to get a hold of it. The dogs spent the
night in eating; we could hear the crunching and grinding of their
teeth whenever we were awake for a moment. The effect of the great and
sudden change of altitude made itself felt at once; when I wanted to
turn round in my bag, I had to do it a bit at a time, so as not to
get out of breath. That my comrades were affected in the same way,
I knew without asking them; my ears told me enough.

It was calm when we turned out, but the weather did not look
altogether promising; it was overcast and threatening. We occupied
the forenoon in flaying a number of dogs. As I have said, all the
survivors were not yet in a mood for dog’s flesh, and it therefore
had to be served in the most enticing form. When flayed and cut up,
it went down readily all along the line; even the most fastidious
then overcame their scruples. But with the skin on we should not
have been able to persuade them all to eat that morning; probably
this distaste was due to the smell clinging to the skins, and I must
admit that it was not appetizing. The meat itself, as it lay there
cut up, looked well enough, in all conscience; no butcher’s shop
could have exhibited a finer sight than we showed after flaying and
cutting up ten dogs. Great masses of beautiful fresh, red meat, with
quantities of the most tempting fat, lay spread over the snow. The
dogs went round and sniffed at it. Some helped themselves to a piece;
others were digesting. We men had picked out what we thought was
the youngest and tenderest one for ourselves. The whole arrangement
was left to Wisting, both the selection and the preparation of the
cutlets. His choice fell upon Rex, a beautiful little animal — one
of his own dogs, by the way. With the skill of an expert, he hacked
and cut away what he considered would be sufficient for a meal. I
could not take my eyes off his work; the delicate little cutlets
had an absolutely hypnotizing effect as they were spread out one by
one over the snow. They recalled memories of old days, when no doubt
a dog cutlet would have been less tempting than now — memories of
dishes on which the cutlets were elegantly arranged side by side,
with paper frills on the bones, and a neat pile of petits pois in
the middle. Ah, my thoughts wandered still farther afield — but that
does not concern us now, nor has it anything to do with the South Pole.

I was aroused from my musings by Wisting digging his axe into the
snow as a sign that his work was done, after which he picked up the
cutlets, and went into the tent. The clouds had dispersed somewhat,
and from time to time the sun appeared, though not in its most genial
aspect. We succeeded in catching it just in time to get our latitude
determined — 85° 36′ S. We were lucky, as not long after the wind got
up from the east-south-east, and, before we knew what was happening,
everything was in a cloud of snow. But now we snapped our fingers
at the weather; what difference did it make to us if the wind howled
in the guy-ropes and the snow drifted? We had, in any case, made up
our minds to stay here for a while, and we had food in abundance. We
knew the dogs thought much the same so long as we have enough to eat,
let the weather go hang. Inside the tent Wisting was getting on well
when we came in after making these observations. The pot was on,
and, to judge by the savoury smell, the preparations were already far
advanced. The cutlets were not fried; we had neither frying-pan nor
butter. We could, no doubt, have got some lard out of the pemmican,
and we might have contrived some sort of a pan, so that we could
have fried them if it had been necessary; but we found it far easier
and quicker to boil them, and in this way we got excellent soup into
the bargain. Wisting knew his business surprisingly well; he had put
into the soup all those parts of the pemmican that contained most
vegetables, and now he served us the finest fresh meat soup with
vegetables in it. The clou of the repast was the dish of cutlets. If
we had entertained the slightest doubt of the quality of the meat,
this vanished instantly on the first trial. The meat was excellent,
quite excellent, and one cutlet after another disappeared with
lightning-like rapidity. I must admit that they would have lost
nothing by being a little more tender, but one must not expect too
much of a dog. At this first meal I finished five cutlets myself,
and looked in vain in the pot for more. Wisting appeared not to have
reckoned on such a brisk demand.

We employed the afternoon in going through our stock of provisions, and
dividing the whole of it among three sledges; the fourth — Hassel’s —
was to be left behind. The provisions were thus divided. Sledge No.1
(Wisting’s) contained

Biscuits, 3,700 (daily ration, 40 biscuits per man).

Dogs’ pemmican, 277 3/4 pounds (1/2 kilogram, or 1 pound 1 1/2 ounces
per dog per day).

Men’s pemmican, 59 1/2 pounds (350 grams, or 12.34 ounces per man
per day).

Chocolate, 12 3/4 pounds (40 grams, or 1.4 ounces per man per day).

Milk-powder, 13 1/4 pounds (60 grams, or 2.1 ounces per man per day).

The other two sledges had approximately the same supplies, and thus
permitted us on leaving this place to extend our march over a period
of sixty days with full rations. Our eighteen surviving dogs were
divided into three teams, six in each. According to our calculation,
we ought to be able to reach the Pole from here with these eighteen,
and to leave it again with sixteen. Hassel, who was to leave his
sledge at this point, thus concluded his provision account, and the
divided provisions were entered in the books of the three others.

All this, then, was done that day on paper. It remained to make the
actual transfer of provisions later, when the weather permitted. To
go out and do it that afternoon was not advisable. Next day, November
23, the wind had gone round to the north-east, with comparatively
manageable weather, so at seven in the morning we began to repack
the sledges. This was not an altogether pleasant task; although the
weather was what I have called “comparatively manageable,” it was
very far from being suitable for packing provisions. The chocolate,
which by this time consisted chiefly of very small pieces, had to
be taken out, counted, and then divided among the three sledges. The
same with the biscuits; every single biscuit had to be taken out and
counted, and as we had some thousands of them to deal with, it will
readily be understood what it was to stand there in about -4° F. and
a gale of wind, most of the time with bare hands, fumbling over this
troublesome occupation. The wind increased while we were at work,
and when at last we had finished, the snow was so thick that we could
scarcely see the tent.

Our original intention of starting again as soon as the sledges
were ready was abandoned. We did not lose very much by this; on the
contrary, we gained on the whole. The dogs — the most important
factor of all — had a thorough rest, and were well fed. They had
undergone a remarkable change since our arrival at the Butcher’s Shop;
they now wandered about, fat, sleek, and contented, and their former
voracity had completely disappeared. As regards ourselves, a day or
two longer made no difference; our most important article of diet,
the pemmican, was practically left untouched, as for the time being
dog had completely taken its place. There was thus no great sign
of depression to be noticed when we came back into the tent after
finishing our work, and had to while away the time. As I went in,
I could descry Wisting a little way off kneeling on the ground,
and engaged in the manufacture of cutlets. The dogs stood in a ring
round him, and looked on with interest. The north-east wind whistled
and howled, the air was thick with driving snow, and Wisting was not
to be envied. But he managed his work well, and we got our dinner as
usual. During the evening the wind moderated a little, and went more to
the east; we went to sleep with the best hopes for the following day.

Saturday, November 25, came; it was a grand day in many respects. I had
already seen proofs on several occasions of the kind of men my comrades
were, but their conduct that day was such that I shall never forget
it, to whatever age I may live. In the course of the night the wind
had gone back to the north, and increased to a gale. It was blowing
and snowing so that when we came out in the morning we could not
see the sledges; they were half snowed under. The dogs had all crept
together, and protected themselves as well as they could against the
blizzard. The temperature was not so very low (-16.6° F.), but low
enough to be disagreeably felt in a storm. We had all taken a turn
outside to look at the weather, and were sitting on our sleeping-bags
discussing the poor prospect. “It’s the devil’s own weather here at
the Butcher’s,” said one; “it looks to me as if it would never get any
better. This is the fifth day, and it’s blowing worse than ever.” We
all agreed. “There’s nothing so bad as lying weather-bound like this,”
continued another; “it takes more out of you than going from morning to
night.” Personally, I was of the same opinion. One day may be pleasant
enough, but two, three, four, and, as it now seemed, five days — no,
it was awful. “Shall we try it?” No sooner was the proposal submitted
than it was accepted unanimously and with acclamation. When I think
of my four friends of the southern journey, it is the memory of that
morning that comes first to my mind. All the qualities that I most
admire in a man were clearly shown at that juncture: courage and
dauntlessness, without boasting or big words. Amid joking and chaff,
everything was packed, and then — out into the blizzard.

It was practically impossible to keep one’s eyes open; the fine
drift-snow penetrated everywhere, and at times one had a feeling of
being blind. The tent was not only drifted up, but covered with ice,
and in taking it down we had to handle it with care. so as not to break
it in pieces. The dogs were not much inclined to start, and it took
time to get them into their harness, but at last we were ready. One
more glance over the camping-ground to see that nothing we ought to
have with us had been forgotten. The fourteen dogs’ carcasses that
were left were piled up in a heap, and Hassel’s sledge was set up
against it as a mark. The spare sets of dog-harness, some Alpine ropes,
and all our crampons for ice-work, which we now thought would not be
required, were left behind. The last thing to be done was planting a
broken ski upright by the side of the depot. It was Wisting who did
this, thinking, presumably, that an extra mark would do no harm. That
it was a happy thought the future will show.

And then we were off: It was a hard pull to begin with, both for
men and beasts, as the high sastrugi continued towards the south,
and made it extremely difficult to advance. Those who had sledges
to drive had to be very attentive, and support them so that they did
not capsize on the big waves, and we who had no sledges found great
difficulty in keeping our feet, as we had nothing to lean against. We
went on like this, slowly enough, but the main thing was that we
made progress. The ground at first gave one the impression of rising,
though not much. The going was extremely heavy; it was like dragging
oneself through sand. Meanwhile the sastrugi grew smaller and smaller,
and finally they disappeared altogether, and the surface became
quite flat. The going also improved by degrees, for what reason it
is difficult to say, as the storm continued unabated, and the drift
— now combined with falling snow — was thicker than ever. It was
all the driver could do to see his own dogs. The surface, which had
become perfectly level, had the appearance at times of sinking; in
any case, one would have thought so from the pace of the sledges. Now
and again the dogs would set off suddenly at a gallop. The wind aft,
no doubt, helped the pace somewhat, but it alone could not account
for the change.

I did not like this tendency of the ground to fall away. In my opinion,
we ought to have done with anything of that sort after reaching the
height at which we were; a slight slope upward, possibly, but down —
no, that did not agree with my reckoning. So far the incline had not
been so great as to cause uneasiness, but if it seriously began to go
downhill, we should have to stop and camp. To run down at full gallop,
blindly and in complete ignorance of the ground, would be madness. We
might risk falling into some chasm before we had time to pull up.

Hanssen, as usual, was driving first. Strictly speaking, I should now
have been going in advance, but the uneven surface at the start and the
rapid pace afterwards had made it impossible to walk as fast the dogs
could pull. I was therefore following by the side of Wisting’s sledge,
and chatting with him. Suddenly I saw Hanssen’s dogs shoot ahead,
and downhill they went at the wildest pace, Wisting after them. I
shouted to Hanssen to stop, and he succeeded in doing so by twisting
his sledge. The others, who were following, stopped when they came up
to him. We were in the middle of a fairly steep descent; what there
might be below was not easy to decide, nor would we try to find out
in that weather. Was it possible that we were on our way down through
the mountains again? It seemed more probable that we lay on one of the
numerous ridges; but we could be sure of nothing before the weather
cleared. We trampled down a place for the tent in the loose snow,
and soon got it up. It was not a long day’s march that we had done —
eleven and three-quarter miles — but we had put an end to our stay at
the Butcher’s Shop, and that was a great thing. The boiling-point test
that evening showed that we were 10,300 feet above the sea, and that
we had thus gone down 620 feet from the Butcher’s. We turned in and
went to sleep. As soon as it brightened, we should have to be ready to
jump out and look at the weather; one has to seize every opportunity
in these regions. If one neglects to do so, it may mean a long wait
and much may be lost. We therefore all slept with one eye open,
and we knew well that nothing could happen without our noticing it.

At three in the morning the sun cut through the clouds and we
through the tent-door. To take in the situation was more than the
work of a moment. The sun showed as yet like a pat of butter, and
had not succeeded in dispersing the thick mists; the wind had dropped
somewhat, but was still fairly strong. This is, after all, the worst
part of one’s job — turning out of one’s good, warm sleeping-bag,
and standing outside for some time in thin clothes, watching the
weather. We knew by experience that a gleam like this, a clearing
in the weather, might come suddenly, and then one had to be on the
spot. The gleam came; it did not last long, but long enough. We lay
on the side of a ridge that fell away pretty steeply. The descent on
the south was too abrupt, but on the south-east it was better and more
gradual, and ended in a wide, level tract. We could see no crevasses
or unpleasantness of any kind. It was not very far that we could
see, though; only our nearest surroundings. Of the mountains we saw
nothing, neither Fridtjof Nansen nor Don Pedro Christophersen. Well
content with our morning’s work, we turned in again and slept till
6 a.m., when we began our morning preparations. The weather, which
had somewhat improved during the night, had now broken loose again,
and the north-easter was doing all it could. However, it would take
more than storm and snow to stop us now, since we had discovered the
nature of our immediate surroundings; if we once got down to the plain,
we knew that we could always feel our way on.

After putting ample brakes on the sledge-runners, we started off
downhill in a south-easterly direction. The slight idea of the position
that we had been able to get in the morning proved correct. The
descent was easy and smooth, and we reached the plain without any
adventure. We could now once more set our faces to the south, and in
thick driving snow we continued our way into the unknown, with good
assistance from the howling north-easterly gale. We now recommenced the
erection of beacons, which had not been necessary during the ascent. In
the course of the forenoon we again passed over a little ridge, the
last of them that we encountered. The surface was now fine enough,
smooth as a floor and without a sign of sastrugi. If our progress was
nevertheless slow and difficult, this was due to the wretched going,
which was real torture to all of us. A sledge journey through the
Sahara could not have offered a worse surface to move over. Now the
forerunners came into their own, and from here to the Pole Hassel. and
I took it in turns to occupy the position.

The weather improved in the course of the day, and when we camped in
the afternoon it looked quite smiling. The sun came through and gave
a delightful warmth after the last few bitter days. It was not yet
clear, so that we could see nothing of our surroundings. The distance
according to our three sledge-meters was eighteen and a half miles;
taking the bad going into consideration, we had reason to be well
satisfied with it. Our altitude came out at 9,475 feet above the sea,
or a drop of 825 feet in the course of the day. This surprised me
greatly. What did it mean? Instead of rising gradually, we were going
slowly down. Something extraordinary must await us farther on, but,
what? According to dead reckoning our latitude that evening was 86° S.

November 27 did not bring us the desired weather; the night was filled
with sharp gusts from the north; the morning came with a slack wind,
but accompanied by mist and snowfall. This was abominable; here
we were, advancing over absolutely virgin ground, and able to see
nothing. The surface remained about the same — possibly rather more
undulating. That it had been blowing here at some time, and violently
too, was shown by the under-surface, which was composed of sastrugi
as hard as iron. Luckily for us, the snowfall of the last few days
had filled these up, so as to present a level surface. It was heavy
going, though better than on the previous day.

As we were advancing, still blindly, and fretting at the
persistently thick weather, one of us suddenly called out: “Hullo,
look there!” A wild, dark summit rose high out of the mass of fog to
the east-south-east. It was not far away — on the contrary, it seemed
threateningly near and right over us. We stopped and looked at the
imposing sight, but Nature did not expose her objects of interest for
long. The fog rolled over again, thick, heavy and dark, and blotted out
the view. We knew now that we had to be prepared for surprises. After
we had gone about ten miles the fog again lifted for a moment, and
we saw quite near — a mile or so away — two long, narrow mountain
ridges to the west of us, running north and south, and completely
covered with snow. These — Helland Hansen’s Mountains — were the
only ones we saw on our right hand during the march on the plateau;
they were between 9,000 and 10,000 feet high, and would probably serve
as excellent landmarks on the return journey. There was no connection
to be traced between these mountains and those lying to the east of
them; they gave us the impression of being entirely isolated summits,
as we could not make out any lofty ridge running east and west. We
continued our course in the constant expectation of finding some
surprise or other in our line of route. The air ahead of us was as
black as pitch, as though it concealed something. It could not be a
storm, or it would have been already upon us. But we went on and on,
and nothing came. Our day’s march was eighteen and a half miles.

I see that my diary for November 28 does not begin very promisingly:
“Fog, fog — and again fog. Also fine falling snow, which makes the
going impossible. Poor beasts, they have toiled hard to get the sledges
forward to-day.” But the day did not turn out so badly after all,
as we worked our way out of this uncertainty and found out what was
behind the pitch-dark clouds. During the forenoon the sun came through
and thrust aside the fog for a while; and there, to the south-east,
not many miles away, lay an immense mountain mass. From this mass,
right across our course, ran a great, ancient glacier; the sun shone
down upon it and showed us a surface full of huge irregularities. On
the side nearest to the mountain these disturbances were such that a
hasty glance was enough to show us the impossibility of advancing that
way. But right in our line of route — straight on to the glacier —
it looked, as far as we could see, as though we could get along. The
fog came and went, and we had to take advantage of the clear intervals
to get our bearings. It would, no doubt, have been better if we could
have halted, set up our tent, and waited for decently clear weather,
so that we might survey the ground at our ease and choose the best
way. Going forward without an idea of what the ground was like,
was not very pleasant. But how long should we have to wait for clear
weather? That question was unanswerable; possibly a week, or even a
fortnight, and we had no time for that. Better go straight on, then,
and take what might come.

What we could see of the glacier appeared to be pretty steep; but
it was only between the south and south-east, under the new land,
that the fog now and again lifted sufficiently to enable us to see
anything. From the south round to the west the fog lay as thick as
gruel. We could see that the big crevasses lost themselves in it,
and the question of what the glacier looked like on the west had
to be put aside for the moment. It was to the south we had to go,
and there it was possible to go forward a little way. We continued
our march until the ground began to show signs of the glacier in the
form of small crevasses, and then we halted. It was our intention to
lighten our sledges before tackling the glacier; from the little we
could see of it, it was plain enough that we should have stiff work. It
was therefore important to have as little as possible on the sledges.

We set to work at once to build the depot; the snow here was excellent
for this purpose — as hard as glass. In a short time an immense
erection of adamantine blocks of snow rose into the air, containing
provisions for five men for six days and for eighteen dogs for five
days. A number of small articles were also left behind.

While we were thus occupied, the fog had been coming and going; some
of the intervals had been quite clear, and had given me a good view of
the nearest part of the range. It appeared to be quite isolated, and
to consist of four mountains; one of these — Mount Helmer Hanssen —
lay separated from the rest. The other three — Mounts Oscar Wisting,
Sverre Hassel, and Olav Bjaaland — lay closer together. Behind this
group the air had been heavy and black the whole time, showing that
more land must be concealed there. Suddenly, in one of the brightest
intervals, there came a rift in this curtain, and the summits of
a colossal mountain mass appeared. Our first impression was that
this mountain — Mount Thorvald Nilsen — must be something over
20,000 feet high; it positively took our breath away, so formidable
did it appear. But it was only a glimpse that we had, and then the
fog enclosed it once more. We had succeeded in taking a few meagre
bearings of the different summits of the nearest group; they were not
very grand, but better ones were not to be obtained. For that matter,
the site of the depot was so well marked by its position under the
foot of the glacier that we agreed it would be impossible to miss it.

Having finished the edifice, which rose at least 6 feet into the air,
we put one of our black provision cases on the top of it, so as to be
able to see it still more easily on the way back. An observation we had
contrived to take while the work was in progress gave us our latitude
as 86° 21′ S. This did not agree very well with the latitude of our
dead reckoning — 86° 23′ S. Meanwhile the fog had again enveloped
everything, and a fine, light snow was falling. We had taken a
bearing of the line of glacier that was most free of crevasses,
and so we moved on again. It was some time before we felt our way
up to the glacier. The crevasses at its foot were not large, but we
had no sooner entered upon the ascent than the fun began. There was
something uncanny about this perfectly blind advance among crevasses
and chasms on all sides. We examined the compass from time to time,
and went forward cautiously.

Hassel and I went in front on a rope; but that, after all, was not much
of a help to our drivers. We naturally glided lightly on our ski over
places where the dogs would easily fall through. This lowest part of
the glacier was not entirely free from danger, as the crevasses were
often rendered quite invisible by a thin overlying layer of snow. In
clear weather it is not so bad to have to cross such a surface,
as the effect of light and shade is usually to show up the edges of
these insidious pitfalls, but on a day like this, when everything
looked alike, one’s advance is doubtful. We kept it going, however,
by using the utmost caution. Wisting came near to sounding the depth
of one of these dangerous crevasses with sledge, dogs and all, as
the bridge he was about to cross gave way. Thanks to his presence
of mind and a lightning-like movement — some would call it luck —
he managed to save himself. In this way we worked up about 200 feet,
but then we came upon such a labyrinth of yawning chasms and open
abysses that we could not move. There was nothing to be done but to
find the least disturbed spot, and set the tent there.

As soon as this was done Hanssen and I set out to explore. We were
roped, and therefore safe enough. It required some study to find a
way out of the trap we had run ourselves into. Towards the group of
mountains last described — which now lay to the east of us — it had
cleared sufficiently to give us a fairly good view of the appearance of
the glacier in that direction. What we had before seen at a distance,
was now confirmed. The part extending to the mountains was so ground
up and broken that there was positively not a spot where one could
set one’s foot. It looked as if a battle had been fought here, and
the ammunition had been great blocks of ice. They lay pell-mell,
one on the top of another, in all directions, and evoked a picture of
violent confusion. Thank God we were not here while this was going on,
I thought to myself, as I stood looking out over this battlefield;
it must have been a spectacle like doomsday, and not on a small scale
either. To advance in that direction, then, was hopeless, but that
was no great matter, since our way was to the south. On the south we
could see nothing; the fog lay thick and heavy there. All we could
do was to try to make our way on, and we therefore crept southward.

On leaving our tent we had first to cross a comparatively narrow
snow-bridge, and then go along a ridge or saddle, raised by pressure,
with wide open crevasses on both sides. This ridge led us on to
an icewave about 25 feet high — a formation which was due to the
pressure having ceased before the wave had been forced to break and
form hummocks. We saw well enough that this would be a difficult place
to pass with sledges and dogs, but in default of anything better it
would have to be done. From the top of this wave-formation we could see
down on the other side, which had hitherto been hidden from us. The
fog prevented our seeing far, but the immediate surroundings were
enough to convince us that with caution we could beat up farther. From
the height on which we stood, every precaution would be required to
avoid going down on the other side; for there the wave ended in an
open crevasse, specially adapted to receive any drivers, sledges or
dogs that might make a slip.

This trip that Hanssen and I took to the south was made entirely at
random, as we saw absolutely nothing; our object was to make tracks for
the following day’s journey. The language we used about the glacier
as we went was not altogether complimentary; we had endless tacking
and turning to get on. To go one yard forward, I am sure we had to
go at least ten to one side. Can anyone be surprised that we called
it the Devil’s Glacier? At any rate, our companions acknowledged the
justness of the name with ringing acclamations when we told them of it.

At Hell’s Gate Hanssen and I halted. This was a very remarkable
formation; the glacier had here formed a long ridge about 20 feet
high; then, in the middle of this ridge, a fissure had opened,
making a gateway about 6 feet wide. This formation — like every —
thing else on the glacier-was obviously very old, and for the most
part filled with snow. From this point the glacier, as far as our
view extended to the south, looked better and better; we therefore
turned round and followed our tracks in the comforting conviction
that we should manage to get on.

Our companions were no less pleased with the news we brought of our
prospects. Our altitude that evening was 8,650 feet above the sea —
that is to say, at the foot of the glacier we had reached an altitude
of 8,450 feet, or a drop from the Butcher’s of 2,570 feet. We now knew
very well that we should have this ascent to make again, perhaps even
more; and this idea did not arouse any particular enthusiasm. In my
diary I see that I conclude the day with the following words “What
will the next surprise be, I wonder?”

It was, in fact, an extraordinary journey that we were undertaking,
through new regions, new mountains, glaciers, and so on, without being
able to see. That we were prepared for surprises was perhaps quite
natural. What I liked least about this feeling one’s way forward in
the dark was that it would be difficult — very difficult indeed —
to recognize the ground again on the way back. But with this glacier
lying straight across our line of route, and with the numerous beacons
we had erected, we reassured ourselves on this score. It would take
a good deal to make us miss them on the return. The point for us,
of course, was to find our descent on to the Barrier again — a
mistake there might be serious enough. And it will appear later in
this narrative that my fear of our not being able to recognize the
way was not entirely groundless. The beacons we had put up came to
our aid, and for our final success we owe a deep debt of gratitude
to our prudence and thoughtfulness in adopting this expedient.

Next morning, November 29, brought considerably clearer weather,
and allowed us a very good survey of our position. We could now see
that the two mountain ranges uniting in 86° S. were continued in a
mighty chain running to the south-east, with summits from 10,000 to
15,000 feet. Mount Thorvald Nilsen was the most southerly we could
see from this point. Mounts Hanssen, Wisting, Bjaaland, and Hassel
formed, as we had thought the day before, a group by themselves,
and lay separated from the main range.

The drivers had a warm morning’s work. They had to drive with great
circumspection and patience to grapple with the kind of ground we
had before us; a slight mistake might be enough to send both sledge
and dogs with lightning rapidity into the next world. It took,
nevertheless, a remarkably short time to cover the distance we had
explored on the previous evening; before we knew it, we were at
Hell’s Gate.

Bjaaland took an excellent photograph here, which gives a very good
idea of the difficulties this part of the journey presented. In the
foreground, below the high snow-ridge that forms one side of a very
wide but partly filled-up crevasse, the marks of ski can be seen in the
snow. This was the photographer, who, in passing over this snow-bridge,
struck his ski into it to try the strength of the support. Close to
the tracks can be seen an open piece of the crevasse; it is a pale
blue at the top, but ends in the deepest black — in a bottomless
abyss. The photographer got over the bridge and back with a whole skin,
but there could be no question of risking sledges and dogs on it, and
it can be seen in the photograph that the sledges have been turned
right round to try another way. The two small black figures in the
distance, on the right, are Hassel and I, who are reconnoitring ahead.

It was no very great distance that we put behind us that day-nine
and a quarter miles in a straight line. But, taking into account all
the turns and circuits we had been compelled to make, it was not so
short after all. We set our tent on a good, solid foundation, and were
well pleased with the day’s work. The altitude was 8,960 feet above
the sea. The sun was now in the west, and shining directly upon the
huge mountain masses. It was a fairy landscape in blue and white, red
and black, a play of colours that defies description. Clear as it now
appeared to be, one could understand that the weather was not all that
could be wished, for the south-eastern end of Mount Thorvald Nilsen
lost itself in a dark, impenetrable cloud, which led one to suspect
a continuation in that direction, though one could not be certain.

Mount Nilsen — ah! anything more beautiful, taking it altogether,
I have never seen. Peaks of the most varied forms rose high into the
air, partly covered with driving clouds. Some were sharp, but most
were long and rounded. Here and there one saw bright, shining glaciers
plunging wildly down the steep sides, and merging into the underlying
ground in fearful confusion. But the most remarkable of them all was
Mount Helmer Hanssen; its top was as round as the bottom of a bowl,
and covered by an extraordinary ice-sheet, which was so broken up and
disturbed that the blocks of ice bristled in every direction like the
quills of a porcupine. It glittered and burned in the sunlight — a
glorious spectacle. There could only be one such mountain in the world,
and as a landmark it was priceless. We knew that we could not mistake
that, however the surroundings might appear on the return journey,
when possibly the conditions of lighting might be altogether different.

After camping, two of us went out to explore farther. The prospect from
the tent was not encouraging, but we might possibly find things better
than we expected. We were lucky to find the going so fine as it was
on the glacier; we had left our crampons behind at the Butcher’s Shop,
and if we had found smooth ice, instead of a good, firm snow surface,
such as we now had, it would have caused us much trouble. Up —
still up, among monsters of crevasses, some of them hundreds of feet
wide and possibly thousands of feet deep. Our prospects of advancing
were certainly not bright; as far as we could see in the line of our
route one immense ridge towered above another, concealing on their
farther sides huge, wide chasms, which all had to be avoided. We went
forward — steadily forward — though the way round was both long and
troublesome. We had no rope on this time, as the irregularities were
so plain that it would have been difficult to go into them. It turned
out, however, at several points, that the rope would not have been
out of place. We were just going to cross over one of the numerous
ridges — the surface here looked perfectly whole — when a great
piece broke right under the back half of Hanssen’s ski. We could
not deny ourselves the pleasure of glancing down into the hole. The
sight was not an inviting one, and we agreed to avoid this place when
we came on with our dogs and sledges. Every day we had occasion to
bless our ski. We often used to ask each other where we should now
have been without these excellent appliances. The usual answer was:
Most probably at the bottom of some crevasse. When we first read
the different accounts of the aspect and nature of the Barrier, it
was clear to all of us, who were born and bred with ski on our feet,
that these must be regarded as indispensable. This view was confirmed
and strengthened every day, and I am not giving too much credit to our
excellent ski when I say that they not only played a very important
part, but possibly the most important of all, on our journey to the
South Pole. Many a time we traversed stretches of surface so cleft
and disturbed that it would have been an impossibility to get over
them on foot. I need scarcely insist on the advantages of ski in deep,
loose snow.

After advancing for two hours, we decided to return. From the raised
ridge on which we were then standing, the surface ahead of us looked
more promising than ever; but we had so often been deceived on the
glacier that we had now become definitely sceptical. How often,
for instance, had we thought that beyond this or that undulation
our trials would be at an end, and that the way to the south would
lie open and free; only to reach the place and find that the ground
behind the ridge was, if possible, worse than what we had already been
struggling with. But this time we seemed somehow to feel victory in
the air. The formations appeared to promise it, and yet — had we been
so often deceived by these formations that we now refused to offer
them a thought? Was it possibly instinct that told us this? I do not
know, but certain it is that Hanssen and I agreed, as we stood there
discussing our prospects, that behind the farthest ridge we saw, we
should conquer the glacier. We had a feverish desire to go and have
a look at it; but the way round the many crevasses was long, and —
I may as well admit it — we were beginning to get tired. The return,
downhill as it was, did not take long, and soon we were able to tell
our comrades that the prospects for the morrow were very promising.

While we had been away, Hassel had measured the Nilsen Mountain,
and found its height to be 15,500 feet above the sea. How well
I remember that evening, when we stood contemplating the glorious
sight that Nature offered, and believing the air to be so clear that
anything within range of vision must have shown itself; and how well,
too, I remember our astonishment on the return journey on finding
the whole landscape completely transformed! If it had not been for
Mount Helmer Hanssen, it would have been difficult for us to know
where we were. The atmosphere in these regions may play the most
awkward tricks. Absolutely clear as it seemed to us that evening,
it nevertheless turned out later that it had been anything but
clear. One has, therefore, to be very careful about what one sees
or does not see. In most cases it has proved that travellers in the
Polar regions have been more apt to see too much than too little;
if, however, we had charted this tract as we saw it the first time,
a great part of the mountain ranges would have been omitted.

During the night a gale sprang up from the south-east, and blew so
that it howled in the guy-ropes of the tent; it was well that the
tent-pegs had a good hold. In the morning, while we were at breakfast,
it was still blowing, and we had some thoughts of waiting for a time;
but suddenly, without warning, the wind dropped to such an extent
that all our hesitation vanished. What a change the south-east wind
had produced! The splendid covering of snow that the day before had
made ski-running a pleasure, was now swept away over great stretches
of surface, exposing the hard substratum. Our thoughts flew back;
the crampons we had left behind seemed to dance before my eyes,
backwards and forwards, grinning and pointing fingers at me. It would
be a nice little extra trip back to the Butcher’s to fetch them.

Meanwhile, we packed and made everything ready. The tracks of the day
before were not easy to follow; but if we lost them now and again
on the smooth ice surface, we picked them up later on a snow-wave
that had resisted the attack of the wind. It was hard and strenuous
work for the drivers. The sledges were difficult to manage over the
smooth, sloping ice; sometimes they went straight, but just as often
cross-wise, requiring sharp attention to keep them from capsizing. And
this had to be prevented at all costs, as the thin provision cases
would not stand many bumps on the ice; besides which, it was such
hard work righting the sledges again that for this reason alone
the drivers exercised the greatest care. The sledges were put to a
severe test that day, with the many great and hard irregularities we
encountered on the glacier; it is a wonder they survived it, and is
a good testimonial for Bjaaland’s work.

The glacier that day presented the worst confusion we had yet had
to deal with. Hassel and I went in front, as usual, with the rope
on. Up to the spot Hanssen and I had reached the evening before our
progress was comparatively easy; one gets on so much quicker when one
knows that the way is practicable. After this point it became worse;
indeed, it was often so bad that we had to stop for a long time and
try in various directions, before finding a way. More than once the
axe had to be used to hack away obstructions. At one time things
looked really serious; chasm after chasm, hummock after hummock, so
high and steep that they were like mountains. Here we went out and
explored in every direction to find a passage; at last we found one,
if, indeed, it deserved the name of a passage. It was a bridge so
narrow that it scarcely allowed room for the width of the sledge;
a fearful abyss on each side. The crossing of this place reminded
me of the tight-rope walker going over Niagara. It was a good thing
none of us was subject to giddiness, and that the dogs did not know
exactly what the result of a false step would be.

On the other side of this bridge we began to go downhill, and our
course now lay in a long valley between lofty undulations on each
side. It tried our patience severely to advance here, as the line of
the hollow was fairly long and ran due west. We tried several times
to lay our course towards the south and clamber up the side of the
undulation, but these efforts did not pay us. We could always get up on
to the ridge, but we could not come down again on the other side; there
was nothing to be done but to follow the natural course of the valley
until it took us into the tract lying to the south. It was especially
the drivers whose patience was sorely tried, and I could see them now
and then take a turn up to the top of the ridge, not satisfied with
the exploration Hassel and I had made. But the result was always the
same; they had to submit to Nature’s caprices and follow in our tracks.

Our course along this natural line was not entirely free from
obstruction; crevasses of various dimensions constantly crossed our
path. The ridge or undulation, at the top of which we at last arrived,
had quite an imposing effect. It terminated on the east in a steep drop
to the underlying surface, and attained at this point a height of over
100 feet. On the west it sloped gradually into the lower ground and
allowed us to advance that way. In order to have a better view of the
surroundings we ascended the eastern and highest part of the ridge,
and from here we at once had a confirmation of our supposition of the
day before. The ridge we had then seen, behind which we hoped to find
better conditions, could now be seen a good way ahead. And what we
then saw made our hearts beat fast with joy. Could that great white,
unbroken plain over there be real, or was it only an illusion? Time
would show.

Meanwhile Hassel and I jogged on, and the others followed. We had
to get through a good many difficulties yet before we reached that
point, but, compared with all the breakneck places we had already
crossed, these were of a comparatively tame description. It was
with a sigh of relief that we arrived at the plain that promised so
well; its extent was not very great, but we were not very exacting
either in this respect, after our last few days’ march over the
broken surface. Farther to the south we could still see great masses
piled up by pressure, but the intervals between them were very great
and the surface was whole. This was, then, the first time since we
tackled the Devil’s Glacier that we were able to steer true south
for a few minutes.

As we progressed, it could be seen that we had really come upon another
kind of ground; for once we had not been made fools of. Not that we
had an unbroken, level surface to go upon — it would be a long time
before we came to that — but we were able to keep our course for long
stretches at a time. The huge crevasses became rarer, and so filled up
at both ends that we were able to cross them without going a long way
round. There was new life in all of us, both dogs and men, and we went
rapidly southward. As we advanced, the conditions improved more and
more. We could see in the distance some huge dome-shaped formations,
that seemed to tower high into the air: these turned out to be the
southernmost limit of the big crevasses and to form the transition
to the third phase of the glacier.

It was a stiff climb to get up these domes, which were fairly high
and swept smooth by the wind. They lay straight in our course, and
from their tops we had a good view. The surface we were entering upon
was quite different from that on the northern side of the domes. Here
the big crevasses were entirely filled with snow and might be crossed
anywhere. What specially attracted one’s attention here was an immense
number of small formations in the shape of haycocks. Great stretches
of the surface were swept bare, exposing the smooth ice.

It was evident that these various formations or phases in the glacier
were due to the underlying ground. The first tract we had passed,
where the confusion was so extreme, must be the part that lay
nearest the bare land; in proportion as the glacier left the land,
it became less disturbed: In the haycock district the disturbance
had not produced cracks in the surface to any extent, only upheaval
here and there. How these haycocks were formed and what they looked
like inside we were soon to find out. It was a pleasure to be able to
advance all the time, instead of constantly turning and going round;
only once or twice did we have to turn aside for the larger haycocks,
otherwise we kept our course. The great, clean-swept stretches of
surface that we came upon from time to time were split in every
direction, but the cracks were very narrow — about half an inch wide.

We had difficulty in finding a place for the tent that evening;
the surface was equally hard everywhere, and at last we had to set
it on the bare ice. Luckily for our tent-pegs, this ice was not of
the bright, steely variety; it was more milky in appearance and
not so hard, and we were thus able to knock in the pegs with the
axe. When the tent was up, Hassel went out as usual to fetch snow
for the cooker. As a rule he performed this task with a big knife,
specially made for snow; but this evening he went out armed with an
axe. He was very pleased with the abundant and excellent material
that lay to his hand; there was no need to go far. Just outside the
tent door, two feet away, stood a fine little haycock, that looked
as if it would serve the purpose well. Hassel raised his axe and
gave a good sound blow; the axe met with no resistance, and went in
up to the haft. The haycock was hollow. As the axe was pulled out
the surrounding part gave way, and one could hear the pieces of ice
falling down through the dark hole. It appeared, then, that two feet
from our door we had a most convenient way down into the cellar. Hassel
looked as if he enjoyed the situation. “Black as a sack,” he smiled;
“couldn’t see any bottom.” Hanssen was beaming; no doubt he would
have liked the tent a little nearer. The material provided by the
haycock was of the best quality, and well adapted for cooking purposes.

The next day, December 1, was a very fatiguing one for us all. From
early morning a blinding blizzard raged from the south-east,
with a heavy fall of snow. The going was of the very worst kind —
polished ice. I stumbled forward on ski, and had comparatively easy
work. The drivers had been obliged to take off their ski and put
them on the loads, so as to walk by the side, support the sledges,
and give the dogs help when they came to a difficult place; and that
was pretty often, for on this smooth ice surface there were a number
of small scattered sastrugi, and these consisted of a kind of snow
that reminded one more of fish-glue than of anything else when the
sledges came in contact with it. The dogs could get no hold with
their claws on the smooth ice, and when the sledge came on to one
of these tough little waves, they could not manage to haul it over,
try as they might. The driver then had to put all his strength into
it to prevent the sledge stopping. Thus in most cases the combined
efforts of men and dogs carried the sledge on.

In the course of the afternoon the surface again began to be more
disturbed, and great crevasses crossed our path time after time. These
crevasses were really rather dangerous; they looked very innocent,
as they were quite filled up with snow, but on a nearer acquaintance
with them we came to understand that they were far more hazardous
than we dreamed of at first. It turned out that between the loose
snow-filling and the firm ice edges there was a fairly broad, open
space, leading straight down into the depths. The layer of snow
which covered it over was in most cases quite thin. In driving out
into one of these snow-filled crevasses nothing happened as a rule;
but it was in getting off on the other side that the critical moment
arrived. For here the dogs came up on to the smooth ice surface, and
could get no hold for their claws, with the result that it was left
entirely to the driver to haul the the sledge up. The strong pull he
then had to give sent him through the thin layer of snow. Under these
circumstances he took a good, firm hold of the sledge-lashing, or of
a special strap that had been made with a view to these accidents. But
familiarity breeds contempt, even with the most cautious, and some of
the drivers were often within an ace of going down into “the cellar.”

If this part of the journey was trying for the dogs, it was certainly
no less so for the men. If the weather had even been fine, so that we
could have looked about us, we should not have minded it so much, but
in this vile weather it was, indeed, no pleasure. Our time was also
a good deal taken up with thawing noses and cheeks as they froze —
not that we stopped; we had no time for that. We simply took off a mit,
and laid the warm hand on the frozen spot as we went; when we thought
we had restored sensation, we put the hand back into the mit. By
this time it would want warming. One does not keep one’s hands bare
for long with the thermometer several degrees below zero and a storm
blowing. In spite of the unfavourable conditions we had been working
in, the sledge-meters that evening showed a distance of fifteen and a
half miles. We were well satisfied with the day’s work when we camped.

Let us cast a glance into the tent this evening. It looks cosy
enough. The inner half of the tent is occupied by three sleeping-bags,
whose respective owners have found it both comfortable and expedient
to turn in, and may now be seen engaged with their diaries. The outer
half — that nearest the door — has only two sleeping-bags, but
the rest of the space is taken up with the whole cooking apparatus
of the expedition. The owners of these two bags are still sitting
up. Hanssen is cook, and will not turn in until the food is ready and
served. Wisting is his sworn comrade and assistant, and is ready to
lend him any aid that may be required. Hanssen appears to be a careful
cook; he evidently does not like to burn the food, and his spoon stirs
the contents of the pot incessantly. “Soup!” The effect of the word
is instantaneous. Everyone sits up at once with a cup in one hand and
a spoon in the other. Each one in his turn has his cup filled with
what looks like the most tasty vegetable soup. Scalding hot it is,
as one can see by the faces, but for all that it disappears with
surprising rapidity. Again the cups are filled, this time with more
solid stuff pemmican. With praiseworthy despatch their contents are
once more demolished, and they are filled for the third time. There is
nothing the matter with these men’s appetites. The cups are carefully
scraped, and the enjoyment of bread and water begins. It is easy to
see, too, that it is an enjoyment — greater, to judge by the pleasure
on their faces, than the most skilfully devised menu could afford. They
positively caress the biscuits before they eat them. And the water —
ice-cold water they all call for — this also disappears in great
quantities, and procures, I feel certain from their expression,
a far greater pleasure and satisfaction than the finest wine that
was ever produced. The Primus hums softly during the whole meal,
and the temperature in the tent is quite pleasant.

When the meal is over, one of them calls for scissors and
looking-glass, and then one may see the Polar explorers dressing their
hair for the approaching Sunday. The beard is cut quite short with the
clipper every Saturday evening; this is done not so much from motives
of vanity as from considerations of utility and comfort. The beard
invites an accumulation of ice, which may often be very embarrassing. A
beard in the Polar regions seems to me to be just as awkward and
unpractical as — well, let us say, walking with a tall hat on each
foot. As the beard-clipper and the mirror make their round, one
after the other disappears into his bag, and with five “Good-nights,”
silence falls upon the tent. The regular breathing soon announces that
the day’s work demands its tribute. Meanwhile the south-easter howls,
and the snow beats against the tent. The dogs have curled themselves
up, and do not seem to trouble themselves about the weather.

The storm continued unabated on the following day, and on account of
the dangerous nature of the ground we decided to wait awhile. In the
course of the morning — towards noon, perhaps — the wind dropped
a little, and out we went. The sun peeped through at times, and
we took the welcome opportunity of getting an altitude — 86° 47′
S. was the result.

At this camp we left behind all our delightful reindeer-skin clothing,
as we could see that we should have no use for it, the temperature
being far too high. We kept the hoods of our reindeer coats, however;
we might be glad of them in going against the wind. Our day’s march
was not to be a long one; the little slackening of the wind about
midday was only a joke. It soon came on again in earnest, with a
sweeping blizzard from the same quarter — the south-east. If we
had known the ground, we should possibly have gone on; but in this
storm and driving snow, which prevented our keeping our eyes open,
it was no use. A serious accident might happen and ruin all. Two and
half miles was therefore our whole distance. The temperature when we
camped was -5.8° F. Height above the sea, 9,780 feet.

In the course of the night the wind veered from south-east to north,
falling light, and the weather cleared. This was a good chance for us,
and we were not slow to avail ourselves of it. A gradually rising ice
surface lay before us, bright as a mirror. As on the preceding days,
I stumbled along in front on ski, while the others, without their ski,
had to follow and support the sledges. The surface still offered filled
crevasses, though perhaps less frequently than before. Meanwhile small
patches of snow began to show themselves on the polished surface,
and soon increased in number and size, until before very long they
united and covered the unpleasant ice with a good and even layer of
snow. Then ski were put on again, and we continued our way to the
south with satisfaction.

We were all rejoicing that we had now conquered this treacherous
glacier, and congratulating ourselves on having at last arrived on
the actual plateau. As we were going along, feeling pleased about
this, a ridge suddenly appeared right ahead, telling us plainly that
perhaps all our sorrows were not yet ended. The ground had begun
to sink a little, and as we came nearer we could see that we had to
cross a rather wide, but not deep, valley before we arrived under the
ridge. Great lines of hummocks and haycock-shaped pieces of ice came
in view on every side; we could see that we should have to keep our
eyes open.

And now we came to the formation in the glacier that we called the
Devil’s Ballroom. Little by little the covering of snow that we had
praised in such high terms disappeared, and before us lay this wide
valley, bare and gleaming. At first it went well enough; as it was
downhill, we were going at a good pace on the smooth ice. Suddenly
Wisting’s sledge cut into the surface, and turned over on its
side. We all knew what had happened — one of the runners was in
a crevasse. Wisting set to work, with the assistance of Hassel,
to raise the sledge, and take it out of its dangerous position;
meanwhile Bjaaland had got out his camera and was setting it
up. Accustomed as we were to such incidents, Hanssen and I were
watching the scene from a point a little way in advance, where we had
arrived when it happened. As the photography took rather a long time,
I assumed that the crevasse was one of the filled ones and presented no
particular danger, but that Bjaaland wanted to have a souvenir among
his photographs of the numerous crevasses and ticklish situations
we had been exposed to. As to the crack being filled up, there was
of course no need to inquire. I hailed them, and asked how they were
getting on. “Oh, all right,” was the answer; “we’ve just finished.” —
“What does the crevasse look like?” — “Oh, as usual,” they shouted
back; “no bottom.” I mention this little incident just to show how
one can grow accustomed to anything in this world. There were these
two — Wisting and Hassel — lying over a yawning, bottomless abyss,
and having their photograph taken; neither of them gave a thought
to the serious side of the situation. To judge from the laughter and
jokes we heard, one would have thought their position was something
quite different.

When the photographer had quietly and leisurely finished his work
— he got a remarkably good picture of the scene — the other two
together raised the sledge, and the journey was continued. It was at
this crevasse that we entered his Majesty’s Ballroom. The surface
did not really look bad. True, the snow was blown away, which made
it difficult to advance, but we did not see many cracks. There were
a good many pressure-masses, as already mentioned, but even in the
neighbourhood of these we could not see any marked disturbance. The
first sign that the surface was more treacherous than it appeared to
be was when Hanssen’s leading dogs went right through the apparently
solid floor. They remained hanging by their harness, and were easily
pulled up again. When we looked through the hole they had made in the
crust, it did not give us the impression of being very dangerous, as,
2 or 3 feet below the outer crust, there lay another surface, which
appeared to consist of pulverized ice. We assumed that this lower
surface was the solid one, and that therefore there was no danger
in falling through the upper one. But Bjaaland was able to tell us
a different story. He had, in fact, fallen through the outer crust,
and was well on his way through the inner one as well, when he got
hold of a loop of rope on his sledge and saved himself in the nick of
time. Time after time the dogs now fell through, and time after time
the men went in. The effect of the open space between the two crusts
was that the ground under our feet sounded unpleasantly hollow as we
went over it. The drivers whipped up their dogs as much as they could,
and with shouts and brisk encouragement they went rapidly over the
treacherous floor. Fortunately this curious formation was not of great
extent, and we soon began to observe a change for the better as we came
up the ridge. It soon appeared that the Ballroom was the glacier’s last
farewell to us. With it all irregularities ceased, and both surface
and going improved by leaps and bounds, so that before very long we
had the satisfaction of seeing that at last we had really conquered
all these unpleasant difficulties. The surface at once became fine
and even, with a splendid covering of snow everywhere, and we went
rapidly on our way to the south with a feeling of security and safety.


At the Pole

In lat. 87° S. — according to dead reckoning — we saw the last of the
land to the north-east. The atmosphere was then apparently as clear
as could be, and we felt certain that our view covered all the land
there was to be seen from that spot. We were deceived again on this
occasion, as will be seen later. Our distance that day (December 4)
was close upon twenty-five miles; height above the sea, 10,100 feet.

The weather did not continue fine for long. Next day (December 5) there
was a gale from the north, and once more the whole plain was a mass
of drifting snow. In addition to this there was thick falling snow,
which blinded us and made things worse, but a feeling of security had
come over us and helped us to advance rapidly and without hesitation,
although we could see nothing. That day we encountered new surface
conditions — big, hard snow-waves (sastrugi). These were anything
but pleasant to work among, especially when one could not see them. It
was of no use for us “forerunners” to think of going in advance under
these circumstances, as it was impossible to keep on one’s feet. Three
or four paces was often the most we managed to do before falling
down. The sastrugi were very high, and often abrupt; if one came on
them unexpectedly, one required to be more than an acrobat to keep on
one’s feet. The plan we found to work best in these conditions was to
let Hanssen’s dogs go first; this was an unpleasant job for Hanssen,
and for his dogs too, but it succeeded, and succeeded well. An upset
here and there was, of course, unavoidable, but with a little patience
the sledge was always righted again. The drivers had as much as they
could do to support their sledges among these sastrugi, but while
supporting the sledges, they had at the same time a support for
themselves. It was worse for us who had no sledges, but by keeping
in the wake of them we could see where the irregularities lay, and
thus get over them. Hanssen deserves a special word of praise for his
driving on this surface in such weather. It is a difficult matter to
drive Eskimo dogs forward when they cannot see; but Hanssen managed it
well, both getting the dogs on and steering his course by compass. One
would not think it possible to keep an approximately right course
when the uneven ground gives such violent shocks that the needle flies
several times round the compass, and is no sooner still again than it
recommences the same dance; but when at last we got an observation,
it turned out that Hanssen had steered to a hair, for the observations
and dead reckoning agreed to a mile. In spite of all hindrances,
and of being able to see nothing, the sledge-meters showed nearly
twenty-five miles. The hypsometer showed 11,070 feet above the sea;
we had therefore reached a greater altitude than the Butcher’s.

December 6 brought the same weather: thick snow, sky and plain all
one, nothing to be seen. Nevertheless we made splendid progress. The
sastrugi gradually became levelled out, until the surface was
perfectly smooth; it was a relief to have even ground to go upon
once more. These irregularities that one was constantly falling over
were a nuisance; if we had met with them in our usual surroundings
it would not have mattered so much; but up here on the high ground,
where we had to stand and gasp for breath every time we rolled over,
it was certainly not pleasant.

That day we passed 88° S., and camped in 88° 9′ S. A great surprise
awaited us in the tent that evening. I expected to find, as on the
previous evening, that the boiling-point had fallen somewhat; in
other words, that it would show a continued rise of the ground, but
to our astonishment this was not so. The water boiled at exactly the
same temperature as on the preceding day. I tried it several times,
to convince myself that there was nothing wrong, each time with the
same result. There was great rejoicing among us all when I was able
to announce that we had arrived on the top of the plateau.

December 7 began like the 6th, with absolutely thick weather, but, as
they say, you never know what the day is like before sunset. Possibly
I might have chosen a better expression than this last — one
more in agreement with the natural conditions — but I will let it
stand. Though for several weeks now the sun had not set, my readers
will not be so critical as to reproach me with inaccuracy. With a
light wind from the north-east, we now went southward at a good
speed over the perfectly level plain, with excellent going. The
uphill work had taken it out of our dogs, though not to any serious
extent. They had turned greedy — there is no denying that — and the
half kilo of pemmican they got each day was not enough to fill their
stomachs. Early and late they were looking for something — no matter
what — to devour. To begin with they contented themselves with such
loose objects as ski-bindings, whips, boots, and the like; but as
we came to know their proclivities, we took such care of everything
that they found no extra meals lying about. But that was not the end
of the matter. They then went for the fixed lashings of the sledges,
and — if we had allowed it — would very quickly have resolved the
various sledges into their component parts. But we found a way of
stopping that: every evening, on halting, the sledges were buried
in the snow, so as to hide all the lashings. That was successful;
curiously enough, they never tried to force the “snow rampart.” I
may mention as a curious thing that these ravenous animals, that
devoured everything they came across, even to the ebonite points of
our ski-sticks, never made any attempt to break into the provision
cases. They lay there and went about among the sledges with their
noses just on a level with the split cases, seeing and scenting the
pemmican, without once making a sign of taking any. But if one raised
a lid, they were not long in showing themselves. Then they all came
in a great hurry and flocked about the sledges in the hope of getting
a little extra bit. I am at a loss to explain this behaviour; that
bashfulness was not at the root of it, I am tolerably certain.

During the forenoon the thick, grey curtain of cloud began to grow
thinner on the horizon, and for the first time for three days we could
see a few miles about us. The feeling was something like that one has
on waking from a good nap, rubbing one’s eyes and looking around. We
had become so accustomed to the grey twilight that this positively
dazzled us. Meanwhile, the upper layer of air seemed obstinately
to remain the same and to be doing its best to prevent the sun
from showing itself. We badly wanted to get a meridian altitude,
so that we could determine our latitude. Since 86° 47′ S. we had
had no observation, and it was not easy to say when we should get
one. Hitherto, the weather conditions on the high ground had not
been particularly favourable. Although the prospects were not very
promising, we halted at 11 a.m. and made ready to catch the sun if
it should be kind enough to look out. Hassel and Wisting used one
sextant and artificial horizon, Hanssen and I the other set.

I don’t know that I have ever stood and absolutely pulled at the sun
to get it out as I did that time. If we got an observation here which
agreed with our reckoning, then it would be possible, if the worst came
to the worst, to go to the Pole on dead reckoning; but if we got none
now, it was a question whether our claim to the Pole would be admitted
on the dead reckoning we should be able to produce. Whether my pulling
helped or not, it is certain that the sun appeared. It was not very
brilliant to begin with, but, practised as we now were in availing
ourselves of even the poorest chances, it was good enough. Down it
came, was checked by all, and the altitude written down. The curtain
of cloud was rent more and more, and before we had finished our work —
that is to say, caught the sun at its highest, and convinced ourselves
that it was descending again — it was shining in all its glory. We had
put away our instruments and were sitting on the sledges, engaged in
the calculations. I can safely say that we were excited. What would the
result be, after marching blindly for so long and over such impossible
ground, as we had been doing? We added and subtracted, and at last
there was the result. We looked at each other in sheer incredulity:
the result was as astonishing as the most consummate conjuring trick
— 88° 16′ S., precisely to a minute the same as our reckoning, 88°
16′ S. If we were forced to go to the Pole on dead reckoning, then
surely the most exacting would admit our right to do so. We put away
our observation books, ate one or two biscuits, and went at it again.

We had a great piece of work before us that day nothing less than
carrying our flag farther south than the foot of man had trod. We
had our silk flag ready; it was made fast to two ski-sticks and laid
on Hanssen’s sledge. I had given him orders that as soon as we had
covered the distance to 88°S., which was Shackleton’s farthest south,
the flag was to be hoisted on his sledge. It was my turn as forerunner,
and I pushed on. There was no longer any difficulty in holding one’s
course; I had the grandest cloud-formations to steer by, and everything
now went like a machine. First came the forerunner for the time being,
then Hanssen, then Wisting, and finally Bjaaland. The forerunner who
was not on duty went where he liked; as a rule he accompanied one
or other of the sledges. I had long ago fallen into a reverie —
far removed from the scene in which I was moving; what I thought
about I do not remember now, but I was so preoccupied that I had
entirely forgotten my surroundings. Then suddenly I was roused from
my dreaming by a jubilant shout, followed by ringing cheers. I turned
round quickly to discover the reason of this unwonted occurrence,
and stood speechless and overcome.

I find it impossible to express the feelings that possessed me at
this moment. All the sledges had stopped, and from the foremost of
them the Norwegian flag was flying. It shook itself out, waved and
flapped so that the silk rustled; it looked wonderfully well in the
pure, clear air and the shining white surroundings. 88° 23′ was past;
we were farther south than any human being had been. No other moment
of the whole trip affected me like this. The tears forced their way
to my eyes; by no effort of will could I keep them back. It was the
flag yonder that conquered me and my will. Luckily I was some way in
advance of the others, so that I had time to pull myself together and
master my feelings before reaching my comrades. We all shook hands,
with mutual congratulations; we had won our way far by holding
together, and we would go farther yet — to the end.

We did not pass that spot without according our highest tribute of
admiration to the man, who — together with his gallant companions
— had planted his country’s flag so infinitely nearer to the
goal than any of his precursors. Sir Ernest Shackleton’s name will
always be written in the annals of Antarctic exploration in letters
of fire. Pluck and grit can work wonders, and I know of no better
example of this than what that man has accomplished.

The cameras of course had to come out, and we got an excellent
photograph of the scene which none of us will ever forget. We went
on a couple of miles more, to 88° 25′, and then camped. The weather
had improved, and kept on improving all the time. It was now almost
perfectly calm, radiantly clear, and, under the circumstances, quite
summer-like: -0.4° F. Inside the tent it was quite sultry. This was
more than we had expected.

After much consideration and discussion we had come to the conclusion
that we ought to lay down a depot — the last one — at this spot. The
advantages of lightening our sledges were so great that we should
have to risk it. Nor would there be any great risk attached to it,
after all, since we should adopt a system of marks that would lead
even a blind man back to the place. We had determined to mark it not
only at right angles to our course — that is, from east to west —
but by snow beacons at every two geographical miles to the south.

We stayed here on the following day to arrange this depot. Hanssen’s
dogs were real marvels, all of them; nothing seemed to have any effect
on them. They had grown rather thinner, of course, but they were still
as strong as ever. It was therefore decided not to lighten Hanssen’s
sledge, but only the two others; both Wisting’s and Bjaaland’s teams
had suffered, especially the latter’s. The reduction in weight that
was effected was considerable — nearly 110 pounds on each of the
two sledges; there was thus about 220 pounds in the depot. The snow
here was ill-adapted for building, but we put up quite a respectable
monument all the same. It was dogs’ pemmican and biscuits that
were left behind; we carried with us on the sledges provisions for
about a month. If, therefore, contrary to expectation, we should be
so unlucky as to miss this depot, we should nevertheless be fairly
sure of reaching our depot in 86° 21′ before supplies ran short. The
cross-marking of the depot was done with sixty splinters of black
packing-case on each side, with 100 paces between each. Every other
one had a shred of black cloth on the top. The splinters on the east
side were all marked, so that on seeing them we should know instantly
that we were to the east of the depot. Those on the west had no marks.

The warmth of the past few days seemed to have matured our frost-sores,
and we presented an awful appearance. It was Wisting, Hanssen, and
I who had suffered the worst damage in the last south-east blizzard;
the left side of our faces was one mass of sore, bathed in matter and
serum. We looked like the worst type of tramps and ruffians, and would
probably not have been recognized by our nearest relations. These
sores were a great trouble to us during the latter part of the
journey. The slightest gust of wind produced a sensation as if one’s
face were being cut backwards and forwards with a blunt knife. They
lasted a long time, too; I can remember Hanssen removing the last
scab when we were coming into Hobart — three months later. We were
very lucky in the weather during this depot work; the sun came out
all at once, and we had an excellent opportunity of taking some good
azimuth observations, the last of any use that we got on the journey.

December 9 arrived with the same fine weather and sunshine. True,
we felt our frost-sores rather sharply that day, with -18.4° F. and
a little breeze dead against us, but that could not be helped. We
at once began to put up beacons — a work which was continued with
great regularity right up to the Pole. These beacons were not so big
as those we had built down on the Barrier; we could see that they
would be quite large enough with a height of about 3 feet, as it
was, very easy to see the slightest irregularity on this perfectly
flat surface. While thus engaged we had an opportunity of becoming
thoroughly acquainted with the nature of the snow. Often — very often
indeed — on this part of the plateau, to the south of 88° 25′, we had
difficulty in getting snow good enough — that is, solid enough for
cutting blocks. The snow up here seemed to have fallen very quietly,
in light breezes or calms. We could thrust the tent-pole, which was
6 feet long, right down without meeting resistance, which showed that
there was no hard layer of snow. The surface was also perfectly level;
there was not a sign of sastrugi in any direction.

Every step we now took in advance brought us rapidly nearer the goal;
we could feel fairly certain of reaching it on the afternoon of the
14th. It was very natural that our conversation should be chiefly
concerned with the time of arrival. None of us would admit that he
was nervous, but I am inclined to think that we all had a little
touch of that malady. What should we see when we got there? A vast,
endless plain, that no eye had yet seen and no foot yet trodden; or —
No, it was an impossibility; with the speed at which we had travelled,
we must reach the goal first, there could be no doubt about that. And
yet — and yet — Wherever there is the smallest loophole, doubt creeps
in and gnaws and gnaws and never leaves a poor wretch in peace. “What
on earth is Uroa scenting?” It was Bjaaland who made this remark,
on one of these last days, when I was going by the side of his sledge
and talking to him. “And the strange thing is that he’s scenting to
the south. It can never be — ” Mylius, Ring, and Suggen, showed the
same interest in the southerly direction; it was quite extraordinary
to see how they raised their heads, with every sign of curiosity,
put their noses in the air, and sniffed due south. One would really
have thought there was something remarkable to be found there.

From 88° 25′ S. the barometer and hypsometer indicated slowly but
surely that the plateau was beginning to descend towards the other
side. This was a pleasant surprise to us; we had thus not only found
the very summit of the plateau, but also the slope down on the far
side. This would have a very important bearing for obtaining an idea
of the construction of the whole plateau. On December 9 observations
and dead reckoning agreed within a mile. The same result again on
the 10th: observation 2 kilometres behind reckoning. The weather
and going remained about the same as on the preceding days: light
south-easterly breeze, temperature -18.4° F. The snow surface was
loose, but ski and sledges glided over it well. On the 11th, the same
weather conditions. Temperature -13° F. Observation and reckoning
again agreed exactly. Our latitude was 89° 15′ S. On the 12th we
reached 89° 30′, reckoning 1 kilometre behind observation. Going and
surface as good as ever. Weather splendid — calm with sunshine. The
noon observation on the 13th gave 89° 37′ S. Reckoning 89° 38.5′
S. We halted in the afternoon, after going eight geographical miles,
and camped in 89° 45′, according to reckoning.

The weather during the forenoon had been just as fine as before;
in the afternoon we had some snow-showers from the south-east. It
was like the eve of some great festival that night in the tent. One
could feel that a great event was at hand. Our flag was taken out
again and lashed to the same two ski-sticks as before. Then it was
rolled up and laid aside, to be ready when the time came. I was
awake several times during the night, and had the same feeling that
I can remember as a little boy on the night before Christmas Eve —
an intense expectation of what was going to happen. Otherwise I think
we slept just as well that night as any other.

On the morning of December 14 the weather was of the finest, just as
if it had been made for arriving at the Pole. I am not quite sure,
but I believe we despatched our breakfast rather more quickly than
usual and were out of the tent sooner, though I must admit that we
always accomplished this with all reasonable haste. We went in the
usual order — the forerunner, Hanssen, Wisting, Bjaaland, and the
reserve forerunner. By noon we had reached 89° 53′ by dead reckoning,
and made ready to take the rest in one stage. At 10 a.m. a light
breeze had sprung up from the south-east, and it had clouded over,
so that we got no noon altitude; but the clouds were not thick, and
from time to time we had a glimpse of the sun through them. The going
on that day was rather different from what it had been; sometimes the
ski went over it well, but at others it was pretty bad. We advanced
that day in the same mechanical way as before; not much was said,
but eyes were used all the more. Hanssen’s neck grew twice as long
as before in his endeavour to see a few inches farther. I had asked
him before we started to spy out ahead for all he was worth, and he
did so with a vengeance. But, however keenly he stared, he could not
descry anything but the endless flat plain ahead of us. The dogs had
dropped their scenting, and appeared to have lost their interest in
the regions about the earth’s axis.

At three in the afternoon a simultaneous “Halt!” rang out from the
drivers. They had carefully examined their sledge-meters, and they
all showed the full distance — our Pole by reckoning. The goal
was reached, the journey ended. I cannot say — though I know it
would sound much more effective — that the object of my life was
attained. That would be romancing rather too bare-facedly. I had
better be honest and admit straight out that I have never known any
man to be placed in such a diametrically opposite position to the
goal of his desires as I was at that moment. The regions around the
North Pole — well, yes, the North Pole itself — had attracted me
from childhood, and here I was at the South Pole. Can anything more
topsy-turvy be imagined?

We reckoned now that we were at the Pole. Of course, every one of us
knew that we were not standing on the absolute spot; it would be an
impossibility with the time and the instruments at our disposal to
ascertain that exact spot. But we were so near it that the few miles
which possibly separated us from it could not be of the slightest
importance. It was our intention to make a circle round this camp,
with a radius of twelve and a half miles (20 kilometres), and to be
satisfied with that. After we had halted we collected and congratulated
each other. We had good grounds for mutual respect in what had been
achieved, and I think that was just the feeling that was expressed in
the firm and powerful grasps of the fist that were exchanged. After
this we proceeded to the greatest and most solemn act of the whole
journey — the planting of our flag. Pride and affection shone in the
five pairs of eyes that gazed upon the flag, as it unfurled itself
with a sharp crack, and waved over the Pole. I had determined that
the act of planting it — the historic event — should be equally
divided among us all. It was not for one man to do this; it was for
all who had staked their lives in the struggle, and held together
through thick and thin. This was the only way in which I could show my
gratitude to my comrades in this desolate spot. I could see that they
understood and accepted it in the spirit in which it was offered. Five
weather-beaten, frost-bitten fists they were that grasped the pole,
raised the waving flag in the air, and planted it as the first at the
geographical South Pole. “Thus we plant thee, beloved flag, at the
South Pole, and give to the plain on which it lies the name of King
Haakon VII.’s Plateau.” That moment will certainly be remembered by
all of us who stood there.

One gets out of the way of protracted ceremonies in those regions
— the shorter they are the better. Everyday life began again at
once. When we had got the tent up, Hanssen set about slaughtering
Helge, and it was hard for him to have to part from his best
friend. Helge had been an uncommonly useful and good-natured dog;
without making any fuss he had pulled from morning to night, and had
been a shining example to the team. But during the last week he had
quite fallen away, and on our arrival at the Pole there was only a
shadow of the old Helge left. He was only a drag on the others, and
did absolutely no work. One blow on the skull, and Helge had ceased
to live. “What is death to one is food to another,” is a saying that
can scarcely find a better application than these dog meals. Helge
was portioned out on the spot, and within a couple of hours there
was nothing left of him but his teeth and the tuft at the end of his
tail. This was the second of our eighteen dogs that we had lost. The
Major, one of Wisting’s fine dogs, left us in 88)deg) 25′ S., and
never returned. He was fearfully worn out, and must have gone away
to die. We now had sixteen dogs left, and these we intended to divide
into two equal teams, leaving Bjaaland’s sledge behind.

Of course, there was a festivity in the tent that evening — not that
champagne corks were popping and wine flowing — no, we contented
ourselves with a little piece of seal meat each, and it tasted well
and did us good. There was no other sign of festival indoors. Outside
we heard the flag flapping in the breeze. Conversation was lively in
the tent that evening, and we talked of many things. Perhaps, too,
our thoughts sent messages home of what we had done.

Everything we had with us had now to be marked with the words “South
Pole” and the date, to serve afterwards as souvenirs. Wisting proved
to be a first-class engraver, and many were the articles he had to
mark. Tobacco — in the form of smoke — had hitherto never made its
appearance in the tent. From time to time I had seen one or two of
the others take a quid, but now these things were to be altered. I
had brought with me an old briar pipe, which bore inscriptions from
many places in the Arctic regions, and now I wanted it marked “South
Pole.” When I produced my pipe and was about to mark it, I received
an unexpected gift Wisting offered me tobacco for the rest of the
journey. He had some cakes of plug in his kit-bag, which he would
prefer to see me smoke. Can anyone grasp what such an offer meant at
such a spot, made to a man who, to tell the truth, is very fond of a
smoke after meals? There are not many who can understand it fully. I
accepted the offer, jumping with joy, and on the way home I had a pipe
of fresh, fine-cut plug every evening. Ah! that Wisting, he spoiled
me entirely. Not only did he give me tobacco, but every evening —
and I must confess I yielded to the temptation after a while, and
had a morning smoke as well — he undertook the disagreeable work of
cutting the plug and filling my pipe in all kinds of weather.

But we did not let our talk make us forget other things. As we had got
no noon altitude, we should have to try and take one at midnight. The
weather had brightened again, and it looked as if midnight would be
a good time for the observation. We therefore crept into our bags to
get a little nap in the intervening hours. In good time — soon after
11 p.m. — we were out again, and ready to catch the sun; the weather
was of the best, and the opportunity excellent. We four navigators
all had a share in it, as usual, and stood watching the course of the
sun. This was a labour of patience, as the difference of altitude
was now very slight. The result at which we finally arrived was of
great interest, as it clearly shows how unreliable and valueless a
single observation like this is in these regions. At 12.30 a.m. we
put our instruments away, well satisfied with our work, and quite
convinced that it was the midnight altitude that we had observed. The
calculations which were carried out immediately afterwards gave us 89°
56′ S. We were all well pleased with this result.

The arrangement now was that we should encircle this camp with a
radius of about twelve and a half miles. By encircling I do not, of
course, mean that we should go round in a circle with this radius;
that would have taken us days, and was not to be thought of. The
encircling was accomplished in this way: Three men went out in
three different directions, two at right angles to the course we
had been steering, and one in continuation of that course. To carry
out this work I had chosen Wisting, Hassel, and Bjaaland. Having
concluded our observations, we put the kettle on to give ourselves
a drop of chocolate; the pleasure of standing out there in rather
light attire had not exactly put warmth into our bodies. As we were
engaged in swallowing the scalding drink, Bjaaland suddenly observed:
“I’d like to tackle this encircling straight away. We shall have
lots of time to sleep when we get back.” Hassel and Wisting were
quite of the same opinion, and it was agreed that they should start
the work immediately. Here we have yet another example of the good
spirit that prevailed in our little community. We had only lately
come in from our day’s work — a march of about eighteen and a half
miles — and now they were asking to be allowed to go on another
twenty-five miles. It seemed as if these fellows could never be
tired. We therefore turned this meal into a little breakfast —
that is to say, each man ate what he wanted of his bread ration,
and then they began to get ready for the work. First, three small
bags of light windproof stuff were made, and in each of these was
placed a paper, giving the position of our camp. In addition, each
of them carried a large square flag of the same dark brown material,
which could be easily seen at a distance. As flag-poles we elected
to use our spare sledge-runners, which were both long — 12 feet —
and strong, and which we were going to take off here in any case,
to lighten the sledges as much as possible for the return journey.

Thus equipped, and with thirty biscuits as an extra ration, the three
men started off in the directions laid down. Their march was by no
means free from danger, and does great honour to those who undertook
it, not merely without raising the smallest objection, but with the
greatest keenness. Let us consider for a moment the risk they ran. Our
tent on the boundless plain, without marks of any kind, may very well
be compared with a needle in a haystack. From this the three men were
to steer out for a distance of twelve and a half miles. Compasses would
have been good things to take on such a walk, but our sledge-compasses
were too heavy and unsuitable for carrying. They therefore had to
go without. They had the sun to go by, certainly, when they started,
but who could say how long it would last? The weather was then fine
enough, but it was impossible to guarantee that no sudden change would
take place. If by bad luck the sun should be hidden, then their own
tracks might help them. But to trust to tracks in these regions is a
dangerous thing. Before you know where you are the whole plain may be
one mass of driving snow, obliterating all tracks as soon as they are
made. With the rapid changes of weather we had so often experienced,
such a thing was not impossible. That these three risked their lives
that morning, when they left the tent at 2.30, there can be no doubt at
all, and they all three knew it very well. But if anyone thinks that
on this account they took a solemn farewell of us who stayed behind,
he is much mistaken. Not a bit; they all vanished in their different
directions amid laughter and chaff.

The first thing we did — Hanssen and I — was to set about arranging
a lot of trifling matters; there was something to be done here,
something there, and above all we had to be ready for the series of
observations we were to carry out together, so as to get as accurate
a determination of our position as possible. The first observation
told us at once how necessary this was. For it turned out that this,
instead of giving us a greater altitude than the midnight observation,
gave us a smaller one, and it was then clear that we had gone out of
the meridian we thought we were following. Now the first thing to be
done was to get our north and south line and latitude determined,
so that we could find our position once more. Luckily for us, the
weather looked as if it would hold. We measured the sun’s altitude at
every hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from these observations found,
with some degree of certainty, our latitude and the direction of
the meridian.

By nine in the morning we began to expect the return of our comrades;
according to our calculation they should then have covered the distance
— twenty-five miles. It was not till ten o’clock that Hanssen made
out the first black dot on the horizon, and not long after the second
and third appeared. We both gave a sigh of relief as they came on;
almost simultaneously the three arrived at the tent. We told them
the result of our observations up to that time; it looked as if our
camp was in about 89° 54′ 30” S., and that with our encircling we
had therefore included the actual Pole. With this result we might
very well have been content, but as the weather was so good and gave
the impression that it would continue so, and our store of provisions
proved on examination to be very ample, we decided to go on for the
remaining ten kilometres (five and a half geographical miles), and
get our position determined as near to the Pole as possible. Meanwhile
the three wanderers turned in — not so much because they were tired,
as because it was the right thing to do — and Hanssen and I continued
the series of observations.

In the afternoon we again went very carefully through our provision
supply before discussing the future. The result was that we had food
enough for ourselves and the dogs for eighteen days. The surviving
sixteen dogs were divided into two teams of eight each, and the
contents of Bjaaland’s sledge were shared between Hanssen’s and
Wisting’s. The abandoned sledge was set upright in the snow, and proved
to be a splendid mark. The sledge-meter was screwed to the sledge,
and we left it there; our other two were quite sufficient for the
return journey; they had all shown themselves very accurate. A couple
of empty provision cases were also left behind. I wrote in pencil on
a piece of case the information that our tent — “Polheim” — would
be found five and a half geographical miles north-west quarter west
by compass from the sledge. Having put all these things in order the
same day, we turned in, very well satisfied.

Early next morning, December 16, we were on our feet again. Bjaaland,
who had now left the company of the drivers and been received with
jubilation into that of the forerunners, was immediately entrusted
with the honourable task of leading the expedition forward to the Pole
itself. I assigned this duty, which we all regarded as a distinction,
to him as a mark of gratitude to the gallant Telemarkers for their
pre-eminent work in the advancement of ski spot. The leader that
day had to keep as straight as a line, and if possible to follow the
direction of our meridian. A little way after Bjaaland came Hassel,
then Hanssen, then Wisting, and I followed a good way behind. I could
thus check the direction of the march very accurately, and see that no
great deviation was made. Bjaaland on this occasion showed himself a
matchless forerunner; he went perfectly straight the whole time. Not
once did he incline to one side or the other, and when we arrived
at the end of the distance, we could still clearly see the sledge we
had set up and take its bearing. This showed it to be absolutely in
the right direction.

It was 11 a.m. when we reached our destination. While some of us
were putting up the tent, others began to get everything ready for
the coming observations. A solid snow pedestal was put up, on which
the artificial horizon was to be placed, and a smaller one to rest
the sextant on when it was not in use. At 11.30 a.m. the first
observation was taken. We divided ourselves into two parties —
Hanssen and I in one, Hassel and Wisting in the other. While one
party slept, the other took the observations, and the watches were
of six hours each. The weather was altogether grand, though the sky
was not perfectly bright the whole time. A very light, fine, vaporous
curtain would spread across the sky from time to time, and then quickly
disappear again. This film of cloud was not thick enough to hide the
sun, which we could see the whole time, but the atmosphere seemed
to be disturbed. The effect of this was that the sun appeared not to
change its altitude for several hours, until it suddenly made a jump.

Observations were now taken every hour through the whole
twenty-four. It was very strange to turn in at 6 p.m., and then on
turning out again at midnight to find the sun apparently still at
the same altitude, and then once more at 6 a.m. to see it still no
higher. The altitude had changed, of course, but so slightly that it
was imperceptible with the naked eye. To us it appeared as though the
sun made the circuit of the heavens at exactly the same altitude. The
times of day that I have given here are calculated according to the
meridian of Framheim; we continued to reckon our time from this. The
observations soon told us that we were not on the absolute Pole,
but as close to it as we could hope to get with our instruments. The
observations, which have been submitted to Mr. Anton Alexander,
will be published, and the result given later in this book.

On December 17 at noon we had completed our observations, and it is
certain that we had done all that could be done. In order if possible
to come a few inches nearer to the actual Pole, Hanssen and Bjaaland
went out four geographical miles (seven kilometres) in the direction
of the newly found meridian.

Bjaaland astonished me at dinner that day. Speeches had not hitherto
been a feature of this journey, but now Bjaaland evidently thought the
time had come, and surprised us all with a really fine oration. My
amazement reached its culmination when, at the conclusion of his
speech, he produced a cigar-case full of cigars and offered it
round. A cigar at the Pole! What do you say to that? But it did not end
there. When the cigars had gone round, there were still four left. I
was quite touched when he handed the case and cigars to me with the
words: “Keep this to remind you of the Pole.” I have taken good care
of the case, and shall preserve it as one of the many happy signs of my
comrades’ devotion on this journey. The cigars I shared out afterwards,
on Christmas Eve, and they gave us a visible mark of that occasion.

When this festival dinner at the Pole was ended, we began our
preparations for departure. First we set up the little tent we had
brought with us in case we should be compelled to divide into two
parties. It had been made by our able sailmaker, Rionne, and was of
very thin windproof gabardine. Its drab colour made it easily visible
against the white surface. Another pole was lashed to the tent-pole,
making its total height about 13 feet. On the top of this a little
Norwegian flag was lashed fast, and underneath it a pennant, on which
“Fram” was painted. The tent was well secured with guy-ropes on all
sides. Inside the tent, in a little bag, I left a letter, addressed
to H.M. the King, giving information of what we had accomplished. The
way home was a long one, and so many things might happen to make it
impossible for us to give an account of our expedition. Besides this
letter, I wrote a short epistle to Captain Scott, who, I assumed,
would be the first to find the tent. Other things we left there were
a sextant with a glass horizon, a hypsometer case, three reindeer-skin
foot-bags, some kamiks and mits.

When everything had been laid inside, we went into the tent,
one by one, to write our names on a tablet we had fastened to the
tent-pole. On this occasion we received the congratulations of our
companions on the successful result, for the following messages were
written on a couple of strips of leather, sewed to the tent

“Good luck,” and “Welcome to 90°.” These good wishes, which we
suddenly discovered, put us in very good spirits. They were signed
by Beck and Rцnne. They had good faith in us. When we had finished
this we came out, and the tent-door was securely laced together,
so that there was no danger of the wind getting a hold on that side.

And so good-bye to Polheim. It was a solemn moment when we bared
our heads and bade farewell to our home and our flag. And then
the travelling tent was taken down and the sledges packed. Now the
homeward journey was to begin — homeward, step by step, mile after
mile, until the whole distance was accomplished. We drove at once into
our old tracks and followed them. Many were the times we turned to
send a last look to Polheim. The vaporous, white air set in again,
and it was not long before the last of Polheim, our little flag,
disappeared from view.


The Return to Framheim

The going was splendid and all were in good spirits, so we went along
at a great pace. One would almost have thought the dogs knew they were
homeward bound. A mild, summer-like wind, with a temperature of -22°
F., was our last greeting from the Pole.

When we came to our last camp, where the sledge was left, we stopped
and took a few things with us. From this point we came into the line
of beacons. Our tracks had already become very indistinct, but, thanks
to his excellent sight, Bjaaland kept in them quite well. The beacons,
however, served their purpose so satisfactorily that the tracks were
almost superfluous. Although these beacons were not more than about 3
feet high, they were extremely conspicuous on the level surface. When
the sun was on them, they shone like electric lighthouses; and when
the sun was on the other side, they looked so dark in the shadow that
one would have taken them for black rocks. We intended in future to
travel at night; the advantages of this were many and great. In the
first place, we should have the sun behind us, which meant a good deal
to our eyes. Going against the sun on a snow surface like this tells
fearfully on the eyes, even if one has good snow-goggles; but with
the sun at one’s back it is only play. Another great advantage —
which we did not reap till later — was that it gave us the warmest
part of the twenty-four hours in the tent, during which time we had
an opportunity of drying wet clothes, and so on. This last advantage
was, however, a doubtful one, as we shall see in due course.

It was a great comfort to turn our backs to the south. The wind,
which had nearly always been in this quarter, had often been very
painful to our cracked faces; now we should always have it at our
backs, and it would help us on our way, besides giving our faces
time to heal. Another thing we were longing for was to come down
to the Barrier again, so that we could breathe freely. Up here we
were seldom able to draw a good long breath; if we only had to say
“Yes,” we had to do it in two instalments. The asthmatic condition in
which we found ourselves during our six weeks’ stay on the plateau
was anything but pleasant. We had fixed fifteen geographical miles
(seventeen and three-eighths statute miles) as a suitable day’s march
on the homeward journey. We had, of course, many advantages now as
compared with the southward journey, which would have enabled us to
do longer marches than this; but we were afraid of overworking the
dogs, and possibly using them up before we had gone very far, if we
attempted too great a distance daily. It soon proved, however, that
we had underestimated our dogs’ powers; it only took us five hours
to cover the appointed distance, and our rest was therefore a long one.

On December 19 we killed the first dog on the homeward trip. This was
Lasse, my own favourite dog. He had worn himself out completely, and
was no longer worth anything. He was divided into fifteen portions,
as nearly equal as possible, and given to his companions. They had
now learnt to set great store by fresh meat, and it is certain that
the extra feeds, like this one, that took place from time to time
on the way home, had no small share in the remarkably successful
result. They seemed to benefit by these meals of fresh meat for
several days afterwards, and worked much more easily.

December 20 began with bitter weather, a breeze from the south-east,
grey and thick. We lost the trail, and for some time had to go by
compass. But as usual it suddenly cleared, and once more the plain
lay before us, light and warm. Yes, too warm it was. We had to take
off everything — nearly — and still the sweat poured off us. It was
not for long that we were uncertain of the way: our excellent beacons
did us brilliant service, and one after another they came up on the
horizon, flashed and shone, and drew us on to our all-important depot
in 88° 25′ S. We were now going slightly uphill, but so slightly that
it was unnoticeable. The hypsometer and barometer, however, were
not to be deceived, and both fell in precisely the same degree as
they had risen before. Even if we had not exactly noticed the rise,
the feeling of it was present. It may perhaps be called imagination,
but I certainly thought I could notice the rise by my breathing.

Our appetite had increased alarmingly during the last few days. It
appeared that we ski-runners evinced a far greater voracity than
the drivers. There were days — only a few days, be it said —
when I believe any of us three — Bjaaland, Hassel, and myself —
would have swallowed pebbles without winking. The drivers never
showed such signs of starvation. It has occurred to me that this may
possibly have been due to their being able to lean on the sledges
as they went along, and thus have a rest and support which we had
to do without. It seems little enough simply to rest one’s hand on
a sledge on the march, but in the long run, day after day, it may
perhaps make itself felt. Fortunately we were so well supplied that
when this sensation of hunger came over us, we could increase our
daily rations. On leaving the Pole we added to our pemmican ration,
with the result that our wild-beast appetites soon gave way and
shrank to an ordinary good, everyday twist. Our daily programme on
entering upon the return journey was so arranged that we began to get
breakfast ready at 6 p.m., and by 8 p.m. we were usually quite ready
to start the day’s march. An hour or so after midnight the fifteen
geographical miles were accomplished, and we could once more put
up our tent, cook our food, and seek our rest. But this rest soon
became so insufferably long. And then there was the fearful heat —
considering the circumstances — which often made us get out of our
sleeping-bags and lie with nothing over us. These rests of twelve,
fourteen, sometimes as much as sixteen hours, were what most tried our
patience during the early part of the return journey. We could see
so well that all this rest was unnecessary, but still we kept it up
as long as we were on the high ground. Our conversation at this time
used to turn very often on the best way of filling up these long,
unnecessary waits.

That day — December 20 — Per — good, faithful, conscientious Per —
broke down utterly and had to be taken on the sledge the last part
of the way. On arrival at the camping-ground he had his reward. A
little blow of the back of the axe was enough for him; without making
a sound the worn-out animal collapsed. In him Wisting lost one of
his best dogs. He was a curious animal — always went about quietly
and peaceably, and never took part in the others’ battles; from his
looks and behaviour one would have judged him, quite mistakenly, to
be a queer sort of beast who was good for nothing. But when he was
in harness he showed what he could do. Without needing any shouts or
cuts of the whip, he put himself into it from morning to night, and was
priceless as a draught dog. But, like others of the same character, he
could not keep it going any longer; he collapsed, was killed and eaten.

Christmas Eve was rapidly approaching. For us it could not be
particularly festive, but we should have to try to make as much of it
as circumstances would permit. We ought, therefore, to reach our depot
that evening, so as to keep Christmas with a dish of porridge. The
night before Christmas Eve we slaughtered Svartflekken. There was no
mourning on this occasion Svartflekken was one of Hassel’s dogs, and
had always been a reprobate. I find the following in my diary, written
the same evening: “Slaughtered Svartflekken this evening. He would
not do any more, although there was not much wrong with his looks. Bad
character. If a man, he would have ended in penal servitude.” He was
comparatively fat, and was consumed with evident satisfaction.

Christmas Eve came; the weather was rather changeable — now overcast,
now clear — when we set out at 8 p.m. the night before. We had not far
to go before reaching our depot. At 12 midnight we arrived there in the
most glorious weather, calm and warm. Now we had the whole of Christmas
Eve before us, and could enjoy it at our ease. Our depot was at once
taken down and divided between the two sledges. All crumbs of biscuit
were carefully collected by Wisting, the cook for the day, and put into
a bag. This was taken into the tent and vigorously beaten and kneaded;
the result was pulverized biscuit. With this product and a sausage of
dried milk, Wisting succeeded in making a capital dish of Christmas
porridge. I doubt whether anyone at home enjoyed his Christmas dinner
so much as we did that morning in the tent. One of Bjaaland’s cigars
to follow brought a festival spirit over the whole camp.

Another thing we had to rejoice about that day was that we had again
reached the summit of the plateau, and after two or three more days’
march would begin to go downhill, finally reaching the Barrier and our
old haunts. Our daily march had hitherto been interrupted by one or
two halts; we stopped to rest both the dogs and ourselves. On Christmas
Eve we instituted a new order of things, and did the whole distance —
fifteen geographical miles — without a stop. We liked this arrangement
best, after all, and it seemed as if the dogs did the same. As a rule
it was hard to begin the march again after the rest; one got rather
stiff lazy, too, perhaps — and had to become supple again.

On the 26th we passed 88° S., going well. The surface appeared to have
been exposed to powerful sunshine since we left it, as it had become
quite polished. Going over these polished levels was like crossing
smooth ice, but with the important difference that here the dogs had
a good foothold. This time we sighted high land even in 88°, and it
had great surprises in store for us. It was clear that this was the
same mighty range running to the south-east as we had seen before,
but this time it stretched considerably farther to the south. The
weather was radiantly clear, and we could see by the land that the
range of vision was very great. Summit after summit the range extended
to the south-east, until it gradually disappeared; but to judge from
the atmosphere, it was continued beyond our range of vision in the
same direction. That this chain traverses the Antarctic continent I
therefore consider beyond a doubt. Here we had a very good example
of how deceptive the atmosphere is in these regions. On a day that
appeared perfectly clear we had lost sight of the mountains in 87°,
and now we saw them as far as the eye could reach in 88°. That we
were astonished is a mild expression. We looked and looked, entirely
unable to recognize our position; little did we guess that the huge
mountain-mass that stood up so high and clear on the horizon was Mount
Thorvald Nilsen. How utterly different it had looked in the misty air
when we said good-bye to it. It is amusing to read my diary of this
time and see how persistently we took the bearings of land every day,
and thought it was new. We did not recognize that vast mountain until
Mount Helmer Hanssen began to stick up out of the plain.

On December 28 we left the summit of the plateau, and began the
descent. Although the incline was not perceptible to the naked eye,
its effect could easily be seen in the dogs. Wisting now used a sail on
his sledge, and was thus able to keep up with Hanssen. If anyone had
seen the procession that came marching over the plateau at that time,
he would hardly have thought we had been out for seventy days at a
stretch, for we came at a swinging pace. We always had the wind at
our backs, with sunshine and warmth the whole time. There was never
a thought of using the whip now; the dogs were bursting with health,
and tugged at their harness to get away. It was a hard time for our
worthy forerunner; he often had to spurt as much as he could to keep
clear of Hanssen’s dogs. Wisting in full sail, with his dogs howling
for joy, came close behind. Hassel had his work cut out to follow,
and, indeed, I had the same. The surface was absolutely polished,
and for long stretches at a time we could push ourselves along with
our sticks. The dogs were completely changed since we had left the
Pole; strange as it may sound, it is nevertheless true that they
were putting on flesh day by day, and getting quite fat. I believe
it must have been feeding them on fresh meat and pemmican together
that did this. We were again able to increase our ration of pemmican
from December 28; the daily ration was 1 pound (450 grams) per man,
and we could not manage more — at least, I think not.

On December 29 we went downhill more and more, and it was indeed
tough work being a ski-runner. The drivers stood so jauntily by the
side of their sledges, letting themselves be carried over the plain
at a phenomenal pace. The surface consisted of sastrugi, alternating
with smooth stretches like ice. Heaven help me, how we ski-runners
had to struggle to keep up! It was all very well for Bjaaland; he
had flown faster on even worse ground. But for Hassel and me it was
different. I saw Hassel put out, now an arm; now a leg, and make the
most desperate efforts to keep on his feet. Fortunately I could not
see myself; if I had been able to, I am sure I should have been in
fits of laughter. Early that day Mount Helmer Hanssen appeared. The
ground now went in great undulations — a thing we had not noticed
in the mist when we were going south. So high were these undulations
that they suddenly hid the view from us. The first we saw of Mount
Hanssen was from the top of one of these big waves; it then looked
like the top of a pressure hummock that was just sticking up above
the surface. At first we did not understand at all what it was; it
was not till the next day that we really grasped it, when the pointed
blocks of ice covering the top of the mountain came into view. As I
have said, it was only then that we made sure of being on the right
course; all the rest of the land that we saw was so entirely strange
to us. We recognized absolutely nothing.

On the 30th we passed 87° S., and were thus rapidly nearing the Devil’s
Ballroom and Glacier. The next day was brilliantly fine-temperature
-2.2° F. — with a good breeze right aft. To our great joy, we got
sight of the land around the Butcher’s Shop. It was still a long way
off, of course, but was miraged up in the warm, sunny air. We were
extraordinarily lucky on our homeward trip; we escaped the Devil’s
Ballroom altogether.

On January 1 we ought, according to our reckoning, to reach the Devil’s
Glacier, and this held good. We could see it at a great distance;
huge hummocks and ice-waves towered into the sky. But what astonished
us was that between these disturbances and on the far side of them,
we seemed to see an even, unbroken plain, entirely unaffected by the
broken surface. Mounts Hassel, Wisting, and Bjaaland, lay as we had
left them; they were easy to recognize when we came a little nearer
to them. Now Mount Helmer Hanssen again towered high into the air;
it flashed and sparkled like diamonds as it lay bathed in the rays of
the morning sun. We assumed that we had come nearer to this range than
when we were going south, and that this was the reason of our finding
the ground so changed. When we were going south, it certainly looked
impassable between us and the mountains; but who could tell? Perhaps
in the middle of all the broken ground that we then saw there was a
good even stretch, and that we had now been lucky enough to stumble
upon it. But it was once more the atmosphere that deceived us, as we
found out on the following day, for instead of being nearer the range
we had come farther out from it, and this was the reason of our only
getting a little strip of this undesirable glacier.

We had our camp that evening in the middle of a big, filled-up
crevasse. We were a trifle anxious as to what kind of surface we
should find farther on; that these few hummocks and old crevasses
were all the glacier had to offer us this time, was more than we
dared to hope. But the 2nd came, and brought — thank God! — no
disappointment. With incredible luck we had slipped past all those
ugly and dangerous places, and now, before we knew where we were,
we found ourselves safe and sound on the plain below the glacier. The
weather was not first-rate when we started at seven in the evening. It
was fairly thick, and we could only just distinguish the top of Mount
Bjaaland. This was bad, as we were now in the neighbourhood of our
depot, and would have liked clear weather to find out where it lay;
but instead of clearing, as we hoped, it grew thicker and thicker,
and when we had gone about six and three-quarter miles, it was so bad
that we thought it best to stop and wait for a while. We had all the
time been going on the erroneous assumption that we had come too far to
the east-that is, too near the mountains — and under the circumstances
— in the short gleams that had come from time to time — we had not
been able to recognize the ground below the glacier. According to
our idea, we were on the east of the depot. The bearings, which had
been taken in thick air, and were now to guide us in this heavy mist,
gave no result whatever. There was no depot to be seen.

We had just swallowed the grateful warm pemmican when the sun suddenly
showed itself. I don’t think the camp was ever broken and the sledges
packed in such a short time. From the moment we jumped out of our
bags till the sledges were ready, it only took us fifteen minutes,
which is incredibly quick. “What on earth is that shining over there
through the fog?” The question came from one of the lads. The mist
had divided, and was rolling away on both sides; in the western bank
something big and white peeped through — along ridge running north
and south. Hurrah! it’s Helland Hansen. Can’t possibly be anything
else. Our only landmark on the west. We all shouted with joy on meeting
this old acquaintance. But in the direction of the depot the fog hung
thick. We held a brief consultation, and agreed to let it go, to steer
for the Butcher’s and put on the pace. We had food enough, anyhow. No
sooner said than done, and we started off. It rapidly cleared, and
then, on our way towards Helland Hansen, we found out that we had
come, not too far to the east, but too far to the west. But to turn
round and begin to search for our depot was not to our liking. Below
Mount Helland Hansen we came up on a fairly high ridge. We had now
gone our fixed distance, and so halted.

Behind us, in the brightest, clearest weather, lay the glacier, as we
had seen it for the first time on our way to the south: break after
break, crevasse after crevasse. But in among all this nastiness there
ran a white, unbroken line, the very path we had stood and looked at a
few weeks back. And directly below that white stripe we knew, as sure
as anything could be, that our depot lay. We stood there expressing our
annoyance rather forcibly at the depot having escaped us so easily,
and talking of how jolly it would have been to have picked up all
our depots from the plain we had strewed them over. Dead tired as I
felt that evening, I had not the least desire to go back the fifteen
miles that separated us from it. “If anybody would like to make the
trip, he shall have many thanks.” They all wanted to make it — all
as one man. There was no lack of volunteers in that company. I chose
Hanssen and Bjaaland. They took nearly everything off the sledge,
and went away with it empty.

It was then five in the morning. At three in the afternoon they
came back to the tent, Bjaaland running in front, Hanssen driving
the sedge. That was a notable feat, both for men and dogs. Hanssen,
Bjaaland, and that team had covered about fifty miles that day,
at an average rate of three to three and a half miles an hour. They
had found the depot without much search. Their greatest difficulty
had been in the undulating surface; for long stretches at a time
they were in the hollows between the waves, which shut in their view
entirely. Ridge succeeded ridge, endlessly. We had taken care that
everything was ready for their return — above all great quantities
of water. Water, water was the first thing, and generally the last,
that was in request. When their thirst was a little quenched,
great interest was shown in the pemmican. While these two were
being well looked after, the depot they had brought in was divided
between the two sledges, and in a short time all was ready for our
departure. Meanwhile, the weather had been getting finer and finer,
and before us lay the mountains, sharp and clear. We thought we
recognized Fridtjof Nansen and Don Pedro Christophersen, and took
good bearings of them in case the fog should return. With most of us
the ideas of day and night began to get rather mixed. “Six o’clock,”
someone would answer, when asked the time. “Yes, in the morning,”
remarks the other. “No; what are you talking about?” answers the
first one again; “it’s evening, of course.” The date was hopeless;
it was a good thing if we remembered the year. Only when writing in
our diaries and observation books did we come across such things as
dates; while at work we had not the remotest idea of them.

Splendid weather it was when we turned out on the morning of January
3. We had now agreed to go as it suited us, and take no notice of day
or night; for some time past we had all been sick of the long hours
of rest, and wanted to break them up at any price. As I have said,
the weather could not have been finer brilliantly clear and a dead
calm. The temperature of -2.2° F. felt altogether like summer in
this bright, still air. Before we began our march all unnecessary
clothes were taken off and put on the sledges. It almost looked as
if everything would be considered superfluous, and the costume in
which we finally started would no doubt have been regarded as somewhat
unseemly in our latitudes. We smiled and congratulated ourselves that
at present no ladies had reached the Antarctic regions, or they might
have objected to our extremely comfortable and serviceable costume. The
high land now stood out still more sharply. It was very interesting
to see in these conditions the country we had gone through on,
the southward trip in the thickest blizzard. We had then been going
along the foot of this immense mountain chain without a suspicion
of how near we were to it, or how colossal it was. The ground was
fortunately quite undisturbed in this part. I say fortunately, as
Heaven knows what would have happened to us if we had been obliged
to cross a crevassed surface in such weather as we then had. Perhaps
we should have managed it — perhaps not.

The journey before us was a stiff one, as the Butcher’s lay 2,680
feet higher than the place where we were. We had been expecting to
stumble upon one of our beacons before long, but this did not happen
until we had gone twelve and a half miles. Then one of them suddenly
came in sight, and was greeted with joy. We knew well enough that we
were on the right track, but an old acquaintance like this was very
welcome all the same. The sun had evidently been at work up here while
we were in the south, as some of the beacons were quite bent over,
and great icicles told us clearly enough how powerful the sunshine
had been. After a march of about twenty-five miles we halted at the
beacon we had built right under the hill, where we had been forced
to stop by thick weather on November 25.

January 4 was one of the days to which we looked forward with anxiety,
as we were then due at our depot at the Butcher’s, and had to find
it. This depot, which consisted of the finest, fresh dogs’ flesh, was
of immense importance to us. Not only had our animals got into the way
of preferring this food to pemmican, but, what was of still greater
importance, it had an extremely good effect on the dogs’ state of
health. No doubt our pemmican was good enough — indeed, it could not
have been better — but a variation of diet is a great consideration,
and seems, according to my experience, to mean even more to the dogs
than to the men on a long journey like this. On former occasions I have
seen dogs refuse pemmican, presumably because they were tired of it,
having no variety; the result was that the dogs grew thin and weak,
although we had food enough. The pemmican I am referring to on that
occasion was made for human use, so that their distaste cannot have
been due to the quality.

It was 1.15 a.m. when we set out. We had not had a long sleep, but it
was very important to avail ourselves of this fine, clear weather while
it lasted; we knew by experience that up here in the neighbourhood of
the Butcher’s the weather was not to be depended upon. From the outward
journey we knew that the distance from the beacon where our camp was
to the depot at the Butcher’s was thirteen and a half miles. We had
not put up more than two beacons on this stretch, but the ground was
of such a nature that we thought we could not go wrong. That it was
not so easy to find the way, in spite of the beacons, we were soon to
discover. In the fine, clear weather, and with Hanssen’s sharp eyes,
we picked up both our beacons. Meanwhile we were astonished at the
appearance of the mountains. As I have already mentioned, we thought
the weather was perfectly clear when we reached the Butcher’s for
the first time, on November 20. I then took a bearing from the tent
of the way we had come up on to the plateau between the mountains,
and carefully recorded it. After passing our last beacon, when we
were beginning to approach the Butcher’s — as we reckoned — we were
greatly surprised at the aspect of our surroundings. Last time —
on November 20 — we had seen mountains on the west and north, but
a long way off: Now the whole of that part of the horizon seemed
to be filled with colossal mountain masses, which were right over
us. What in the world was the meaning of this? Was it witchcraft? I
am sure I began to think so for a moment. I would readily have taken
my most solemn oath that I had never seen that landscape before in my
life. We had now gone the full distance, and according to the beacons
we had passed, we ought to be on the spot. This was very strange; in
the direction in which I had taken the bearing of our ascent, we now
only saw the side of a perfectly unknown mountain, sticking up from
the plain. There could be absolutely no way down in that precipitous
wall. Only on the north-west did the ground give the impression of
allowing a descent; there a natural depression seemed to be formed,
running down towards the Barrier, which we could see far, far away.

We halted and discussed the situation. “Hullo!” Hanssen suddenly
exclaimed, “somebody has been here before.” — “Yes,” broke in Wisting;
“I’m hanged if that isn’t my broken ski that I stuck up by the
depot.” So it was Wisting’s broken ski that brought us out of this
unpleasant situation. It was a good thing he put it there — very
thoughtful, in any case. I now examined the place with the glasses,
and by the side of a snow mound, which proved to be our depot, but
might easily have escaped our notice, we could see the ski sticking
up out of the snow. We cheerfully set our course for the spot, but
did not reach it until we had gone three miles.

There was rejoicing in our little band when we arrived and saw that
what we had considered the most important point of our homeward
journey had been reached. It was not so much for the sake of the food
it contained that we considered it so necessary to find this spot,
as for discovering the way down to the Barrier again. And now that
we stood there, we recognized this necessity more than ever. For
although we now knew, from our bearings, exactly where the descent
lay, we could see nothing of it at all. The plateau there seemed to go
right up to the mountain, without any opening towards the lower ground
beyond; and yet the compass told us that such an opening must exist,
and would take us down. The mountain, on which we had thus walked all
day on the outward journey, without knowing anything of it, was Mount
Fridtjof Nansen. Yes, the difference in the light made a surprising
alteration in the appearance of things.

The first thing we did on reaching the depot was to take out the
dogs’ carcasses that lay there and cut them into big lumps, that
were divided among the dogs. They looked rather surprised; they
had not been accustomed to such rations. We threw three carcasses
on to the sledges, so as to have a little extra food for them on
the way down. The Butcher’s was not a very friendly spot this time,
either. True, it was not the same awful weather as on our first visit,
but it was blowing a fresh breeze with a temperature of -9.4° F.,
which, after the heat of the last few days, seemed to go to one’s
marrow, and did not invite us to stay longer than was absolutely
necessary. Therefore, as soon as we had finished feeding the dogs
and putting our sledges in order, we set out.

Although the ground had not given us the impression of sloping, we
soon found out that it did so when we got under way. It was not only
downhill, but the pace became so great that we had to stop and put
brakes under the sledges. As we advanced, the apparently unbroken
wall opened more and more, and showed us at last our old familiar
ascent. There lay Mount Ole Engelstad, snowclad and cold, as we saw
it the first time. As we rounded it we came on to the severe, steep
slope, where, on the way south, I had so much admired the work done
by my companions and the dogs that day. But now I had an even better
opportunity of seeing how steep this ascent really had been. Many
were the brakes we had to put on before we could reduce the speed
to a moderate pace, but even so we came down rapidly, and soon the
first part of the descent lay behind us. So as not to be exposed to
possible gusts from the plain, we went round Mount Engelstad and
camped under the lee of it, well content with the day’s work. The
snow lay here as on our first visit, deep and loose, and it was
difficult to find anything like a good place for the tent. We could
soon feel that we had descended a couple of thousand feet and come
down among the mountains. It was still, absolutely still, and the
sun broiled us as on a day of high summer at home. I thought, too,
that I could notice a difference in my breathing; it seemed to work
much more easily and pleasantly — perhaps it was only imagination.

At one o’clock on the following morning we were out again. The sight
that met our eyes that morning, when we came out of the tent, was one
of those that will always live in our memories. The tent stood in the
narrow gap between Fridtjof Nansen and Ole Engelstad. The sun, which
now stood in the south, was completely hidden by the latter mountain,
and our camp was thus in the deepest shadow; but right against us
on the other side the Nansen mountain raised its splendid ice-clad
summit high towards heaven, gleaming and sparkling in the rays of
the midnight sun. The shining white passed gradually, very gradually,
into pale blue, then deeper and deeper blue, until the shadow swallowed
it up. But down below, right on the Heiberg Glacier, its ice-covered
side was exposed — dark and solemn the mountain mass stood out. Mount
Engelstad lay in shadow, but on its summit rested a beautiful light
little cirrus cloud, red with an edge of gold. Down over its side
the blocks of ice lay scattered pell-mell. And farther down on the
east rose Don Pedro Christophersen, partly in shadow, partly gleaming
in the sun — a marvellously beautiful sight. And all was so still;
one almost feared to disturb the incomparable splendour of the scene.

We now knew the ground well enough to be able to go straight ahead
without any detours. The huge avalanches were more frequent than on
the outward journey. One mass of snow after another plunged down;
Don Pedro was getting rid of his winter coat. The going was precisely
the same — loose, fairly deep snow. We went quite easily over it,
however, and it was all downhill. On the ridge where the descent to
the glacier began we halted to make our preparations. Brakes were
put under the sledges, and our two ski-sticks were fastened together
to make one strong one; we should have to be able to stop instantly
if surprised by a crevasse as we were going. We ski-runners went in
front. The going was ideal here on the steep slope, just enough loose
snow to give one good steering on ski. We went whizzing down, and it
was not many minutes before we were on the Heiberg Glacier. For the
drivers it was not quite such plain sailing: they followed our tracks,
but had to be extremely careful on the steep fall.

We camped that evening on the selfsame spot where we had had our tent
on November 18, at about 3,100 feet above the sea. From here one could
see the course of the Axel Heiberg Glacier right down to its junction
with the Barrier. It looked fine and even, and we decided to follow
it instead of climbing over the mountain, as we had done on the way
south. Perhaps the distance would be somewhat longer, but probably we
should make a considerable saving of time. We had now agreed upon a new
arrangement of our time; the long spells of rest were becoming almost
unbearable. Another very important side of the question was that,
by a reasonable arrangement, we should be able to save a lot of time,
and reach home several days sooner than we had reckoned. After a great
deal of talk on one side and on the other, we agreed to arrange matters
thus: we were to do our fifteen geographical miles, or twenty-eight
kilometres, and then have a sleep of six hours, turn out again and do
fifteen miles more, and so on. In this way we should accomplish a very
good average distance on our day’s march. We kept to this arrangement
for the rest of the journey, and thus saved a good many days.

Our progress down the Heiberg Glacier did not encounter any
obstructions; only at the transition from the glacier to the Barrier
were there a few crevasses that had to be circumvented. At 7 a.m. on
January 6 we halted at the angle of land that forms the entrance to
the Heiberg Glacier, and thence extends northward. We had not yet
recognized any of the land we lay under, but that was quite natural,
as we now saw it from the opposite side. We knew, though, that we
were not far away from our main depot in 85° 5′ S. On the afternoon
of the same day we were off again.

From a little ridge we crossed immediately after starting, Bjaaland
thought he could see the depot down on the Barrier, and it was not
very long before we came in sight of Mount Betty and our way up. And
now we could make sure with the glasses that it really was our depot
that we saw — the same that Bjaaland thought he had seen before. We
therefore set our course straight for it, and in a few minutes we
were once more on the Barrier — January 6, 11 p.m. — after a stay
of fifty-one days on land. It was on November 17 that we had begun
the ascent.

We reached the depot, and found everything in order. The heat here
must have been very powerful; our lofty, solid depot was melted by
the sun into a rather low mound of snow. The pemmican rations that
had been exposed to the direct action of the sun’s rays had assumed
the strangest forms, and, of course, they had become rancid. We
got the sledges ready at once, taking all the provisions out of the
depot and loading them. We left behind some of the old clothes we
had been wearing all the way from here to the Pole and back. When
we had completed all this repacking and had everything ready, two
of us went over to Mount Betty, and collected as many different
specimens of rock as we could lay our hands on. At the same time we
built a great cairn, and left there a can of 17 litres of paraffin,
two packets of matches — containing twenty boxes — and an account
of our expedition. Possibly someone may find a use for these things
in the future.

We had to kill Frithjof, one of Bjaaland’s dogs, at this camp. He had
latterly been showing marked signs of shortness of breath, and finally
this became so painful to the animal that we decided to put an end
to him. Thus brave Frithjof ended his career. On cutting him open
it appeared that his lungs were quite shrivelled up; nevertheless,
the remains disappeared pretty quickly into his companions’
stomachs. What they had lost in quantity did not apparently affect
their quality. Nigger, one of Hassel’s dogs, had been destroyed on
the way down from the plateau. We thus reached this point again with
twelve dogs, as we had reckoned on doing, and left it with eleven. I
see in my diary the following remark: “The dogs look just as well
as when we left Framheim.” On leaving the place a few hours later
we had provisions for thirty-five days on the sledges. Besides this,
of course, we had a depot at every degree of latitude up to 80°.

It looked as though we had found our depot at the right moment, for
when we came out to continue our journey the whole Barrier was in a
blizzard. A gale was blowing from the south, with a sky completely
clouded over; falling snow and drift united in a delightful dance, and
made it difficult to see. The lucky thing was that now we had the wind
with us, and thus escaped getting it all in our eyes, as, we had been
accustomed to. The big crevasse, which, as we knew, lay right across
the line of our route, made us go very carefully. To avoid any risk,
Bjaaland and Hassel, who went in advance, fastened an alpine rope
between them. The snow was very deep and loose, and the going very
heavy. Fortunately, we were warned in time of our approach to the
expected cracks by the appearance of some bare ice ridges. These told
us clearly enough that disturbances had taken place here, and that even
greater ones might be expected, probably near at hand. At that moment
the thick curtain of cloud was torn asunder, and the sun pierced the
whirling mass of snow. Instantly Hanssen shouted: “Stop, Bjaaland!” He
was just on the edge of the yawning crevasse. Bjaaland himself has
splendid sight, but his excellent snow-goggles — his own patent —
entirely prevented his seeing. Well, Bjaaland would not have been in
any serious danger if he had fallen into the crevasse, as he was roped
to Hassel, but it would have been confoundedly unpleasant all the same.

As I have said before, I assume that these great disturbances here
mark the boundary between the Barrier and the land. This time,
curiously enough, they seemed also to form a boundary between good
and bad weather, for on the far side of them — to the north — the
Barrier lay bathed in sunshine. On the south the blizzard raged worse
than ever. Mount Betty was the last to send us its farewell. South
Victoria Land had gone into hiding, and did not show itself again. As
soon as we came into the sunshine, we ran upon one of our beacons;
our course lay straight towards it. That was not bad steering in the
dark. At 9 p.m. we reached the depot in 85° S. Now we could begin to be
liberal with the dogs’ food, too; they had double pemmican rations,
besides as many oatmeal biscuits as they would eat. We had such
masses of biscuits now that we could positively throw them about. Of
course, we might have left a large part of these provisions behind;
but there was a great satisfaction in being so well supplied with
food, and the dogs did not seem to mind the little extra weight in
the least. As long as things went so capitally as they were going —
that is, with men and dogs exactly keeping pace with one another —
we could ask for nothing better. But the weather that had cheered us
was not of long duration. “Same beastly weather,” my diary says of
the next stage. The wind had shifted to the north-west, with overcast,
thick weather, and very troublesome drifting snow. In spite of these
unfavourable conditions, we passed beacon after beacon, and at the
end of our march had picked up all the beacons we had erected on
this distance of seventeen miles and three-eighths. But, as before,
we owed this to Hanssen’s good eyes.

On our way southward we had taken a good deal of seal meat and had
divided it among the depots we built on the Barrier in such a way that
we were now able to eat fresh meat every day. This had not been done
without an object; if we should be visited with scurvy, this fresh meat
would be invaluable. As we were — sound and healthy as we had never
been before — the seal-beef was a pleasant distraction in our menu,
nothing more. The temperature had risen greatly since we came down
on to the Barrier, and kept steady at about + 14° F. We were so warm
in our sleeping-bags that we had to turn them with the hair out. That
was better; we breathed more freely and felt happier. “Just like going
into an ice-cellar,” somebody remarked. The same feeling as when on
a really warm summer day one comes out of the hot sun into cool shade.

January 9. — “Same beastly weather; snow, snow, snow, nothing but
snow. Is there no end to it? Thick too, so that we have not been able
to see ten yards ahead. Temperature + 17.6° F. Thawing everywhere
on the sledges. Everything getting wet. Have not found a single
beacon in this blind man’s weather. The snow was very deep to begin
with and the going exceedingly heavy, but in spite of this the dogs
managed their sledges very well.” That evening the weather improved,
fortunately, and became comparatively clear by the time we resumed our
journey at 10 p.m. Not long after we sighted one of our beacons. It
lay to the west, about 200 yards away. We were thus not far out of
our course; we turned aside and went up to it, as it was interesting
to see whether our reckoning was in order. The beacon was somewhat
damaged by sunshine and storms, but we found the paper left in it,
which told us that this beacon was erected on November 14, in 84° 26′
S. It also told us what course to steer by compass to reach the next
beacon, which lay five kilometres from this one.

As we were leaving this old friend and setting our course as it
advised, to our unspeakable astonishment two great birds — skua gulls
— suddenly came flying straight towards us. They circled round us
once or twice and then settled on the beacon. Can anyone who reads
these lines form an idea of the effect this had upon us? It is hardly
likely. They brought us a message from the living world into this realm
of death — a message of all that was dear to us. I think the same
thoughts filled us all. They did not allow themselves a long rest,
these first messengers from another world; they sat still a while,
no doubt wondering who we were, then rose aloft and flew on to the
south. Mysterious creatures! they were now exactly half-way between
Framheim and the Pole, and yet they were going farther inland. Were
they going over to the other side?

Our march ended this time at one of our beacons, in 84° 15′. It
felt so good and safe to lie beside one of these; it always gave
us a sure starting-point for the following stage. We were up at
4 a.m. and left the place a few hours later, with the result that
the day’s march brought us thirty-four miles nearer Framheim. With
our present arrangement, we had these long-day marches every other
day. Our dogs need no better testimonial than this — one day
seventeen miles, the next day thirty-four, and fresh all the way
home. The two birds, agreeably as their first appearance had affected
me, led my thoughts after a while in another direction, which was
anything but agreeable. It occurred to me that these two might only
be representatives of a larger collection of these voracious birds,
and that the remainder might now be occupied in consuming all the fresh
meat we had so laboriously transported with us and spread all over the
plain in our depots. It is incredible what a flock of these birds of
prey can get rid of; it would not matter if the meat were frozen as
hard as iron, they would have managed it, even if it had been a good
deal harder than iron. Of the seals’ carcasses we had lying in 80°,
I saw in my thoughts nothing but the bones. Of the various dogs we
had killed on our way south and laid on the tops of beacons I did not
see even so much as that. Well, it was possible that my thoughts had
begun to assume too dark a hue; perhaps the reality would be brighter.

Weather and going began by degrees to right themselves; it looked as if
things would improve in proportion to our distance from land. Finally,
both became perfect; the sun shone from a cloudless sky, and the
sledges ran on the fine, even surface with all the ease and speed
that could be desired. Bjaaland, who had occupied the position of
forerunner all the way from the Pole, performed his duties admirably;
but the old saying that nobody is perfect applied even to him. None
of us — no matter who it may be — can keep in a straight line, when
he has no marks to follow. All the more difficult is this when, as so
often happened with us, one has to go blindly. Most of us, I suppose,
would swerve now to one side, now to the other, and possibly end,
after all this groping, by keeping pretty well to the line. Not so
with Bjaaland; he was a right-hand man. I can see him now; Hanssen
has given him the direction by compass, and Bjaaland turns round,
points his ski in the line indicated and sets of with decision. His
movements clearly show that he has made up his mind, cost what it
may, to keep in the right direction. He sends his ski firmly along,
so that the snow spurts from them, and looks straight before him. But
the result is the same; if Hanssen had let Bjaaland go on without any
correction, in the course of an hour or so the latter would probably
have described a beautiful circle and brought himself back to the spot
from which he had started. Perhaps. after all, this was not a fault to
complain of, since we always knew with absolute certainty that, when
we had got out of the line of beacons, we were to the right of it and
had to search for the beacons to the west. This conclusion proved very
useful to us more than once, and we gradually became so familiar with
Bjaaland’s right-handed tendencies that we actually counted on them.

On January 13, according to our reckoning, we ought to reach the depot
in 83° S. This was the last of our depots that was not marked at right
angles to the route, and therefore the last critical point. The day
was not altogether suited for finding the needle in the haystack. It
was calm with a thick fog, so thick that we could only see a few yards
in front of us. We did not see a single beacon on the whole march. At
4 p.m. we had completed the distance, according to the sledge-meters,
and reckoned that we ought to be in 83° S., by the depot; but there
was nothing to be seen. We decided, therefore, to set our tent and
wait till it cleared. While we were at work with this, there was a
rift in the thick mass of fog, and there, not many yards away — to
the west, of course — lay our depot. We quickly took the tent down
again, packed it on the sledge, and drove up to our food mound, which
proved to be quite in order. There was no sign of the birds having
paid it a visit. But what was that? Fresh, well-marked dog-tracks
in the newly-fallen snow. We soon saw that they must be the tracks
of the runaways that we had lost here on the way south. Judging by
appearances, they must have lain under the lee of the depot for
a considerable time; two deep hollows in the snow told us that
plainly. And evidently they must have had enough food, but where
on earth had they got it from? The depot was absolutely untouched,
in spite of the fact that the lumps of pemmican lay exposed to the
light of day and were very easy to get at; besides which, the snow on
the depot was not so hard as to prevent the dogs pulling it down and
eating up all the food. Meanwhile the dogs had left the place again,
as shown by the fresh trail, which pointed to the north. We examined
the tracks very closely, and agreed that they were not more than
two days old. They went northward, and we followed them from time to
time on our next stage. At the beacon in 82° 45′, where we halted,
we saw them still going to the north. In 82° 24′ the trail began to
be much confused, and ended by pointing due west. That was the last
we saw of the tracks; but we had not done with these dogs, or rather
with their deeds. We stopped at the beacon in 82° 20′. Else, who
had been laid on the top of it, had fallen down and lay by the side;
the sun had thawed away the lower part of the beacon. So the roving
dogs had not been here; so much was certain, for otherwise we should
not have found Else as we did. We camped at the end of that stage by
the beacon in 82° 15′, and shared out Else’s body. Although she had
been lying in the strong sunshine, the flesh was quite good, when we
had scraped away a little mouldiness. It smelt rather old, perhaps,
but our dogs were not fastidious when it was a question of meat.

On January 16 we arrived at the depot in 82° S. We could see
from a long way off that the order in which we had left it no
longer prevailed. When we came up to it, we saw at once what had
happened. The innumerable dog-tracks that had trampled the snow quite
hard round the depot declared plainly enough that the runaways had
spent a good deal of time here. Several of the cases belonging to
the depot had fallen down, presumably from the same cause as Else,
and the rascals had succeeded in breaking into one of them. Of the
biscuits and pemmican which it had contained, nothing, of course,
was left; but that made no difference to us now, as we had food in
abundance. The two dogs’ carcasses that we had placed on the top of
the depot — Uranus and Jaala — were gone, not even the teeth were to
be seen. Yet they had left the teeth of Lucy, whom they had eaten in
82° 3′. Jaala’s eight puppies were still lying on the top of a case;
curiously enough, they had not fallen down. In addition to all the
rest, the beasts had devoured some ski-bindings and things of that
sort. It was no loss to us, as it happened; but who could tell which
way these creatures had gone? If they had succeeded in finding the
depot in 80° S., they would probably by this time have finished our
supply of seal meat there. Of course it would be regrettable if this
had happened, although it would entail no danger either to ourselves
or our animals. If we got as far as 80°, we should come through all
right. For the time being, we had to console ourselves with the fact
that we could see no continuation of the trail northward.

We permitted ourselves a little feast here in 82°. The “chocolate
pudding” that Wisting served as dessert is still fresh in my memory;
we all agreed that it came nearer perfection than anything it had
hitherto fallen to our lot to taste. I may disclose the receipt:
biscuit-crumbs, dried milk and chocolate are put into a kettle of
boiling water. What happens afterwards, I don’t know; for further
information apply to Wisting. Between 82° and 81° we came into our
old marks of the second depot journey; on that trip we had marked
this distance with splinters of packing-case at every geographical
mile. That was in March, 1911, and now we were following these
splinters in the second half of January, 1912. Apparently they stood
exactly as they had been put in. This marking stopped in 81° 33′ S.,
with two pieces of case on a snow pedestal. The pedestal was still
intact and good.

I shall let my diary describe what we saw on January 18: “Unusually
fine weather to-day. Light south-south-west breeze, which in the
course of our march cleared the whole sky. In 81° 20′ we came abreast
of our old big pressure ridges. We now saw far more of them than ever
before. They extended as far as the eye could see, running north-east
to south-west, in ridges and peaks. Great was our surprise when, a
short time after, we made out high, bare land in the same direction,
and not long after that two lofty, white summits to the south-east,
probably in about 82° S. It could be seen by the look of the sky
that the land extended from north-east to south-west. This must be
the same land that we saw lose itself in the horizon in about 84°S.,
when we stood at a height of about 4,000 feet and looked out over
the Barrier, during our ascent. We now have sufficient indications to
enable us without hesitation to draw this land as continuous — Carmen
Land. The surface against the land is violently disturbed — crevasses
and pressure ridges, waves and valleys, in all directions. We shall
no doubt feel the effect of it to-morrow.” Although what we have seen
apparently justifies us in concluding that Carmen Land extends from
86° S. to this position — about 81° 30′ S. — and possibly farther
to the north-east, I have not ventured to lay it down thus on the
map. I have contented myself with giving the name of Carmen Land to
the land between 86° and 84°, and have called the rest “Appearance
of Land.” It will be a profitable task for an explorer to investigate
this district more closely.

As we had expected, on our next stage we were made to feel the effect
of the disturbances. Three times we had now gone over this stretch of
the Barrier without having really clear weather. This time we had it,
and were able to see what it actually looked like. The irregularities
began in 81° 12′ S., and did not extend very far from north to
south-possibly about five kilometres (three and a quarter miles). How
far they extended from east to west it is difficult to say, but at any
rate as far as the eye could reach. Immense pieces of the surface had
fallen away and opened up the most horrible yawning gulfs, big enough
to swallow many caravans of the size of ours. From these open holes,
ugly wide cracks ran out in all directions; besides which, mounds and
haycocks were everywhere to be seen. Perhaps the most remarkable thing
of all was that we had passed over here unharmed. We went across as
light-footedly as possible, and at top speed. Hanssen went halfway
into a crevasse, but luckily got out of it again without difficulty.

The depot in 81° S. was in perfect order; no dog-tracks to be
seen there. Our hopes that the depot in 80° S. would be intact rose
considerably. In 80° 45′ S. lay the first dog we had killed — Bone. He
was particularly fat, and was immensely appreciated. The dogs no
longer cared very much for pemmican. On January 21 we passed our last
beacon, which stood in 80° 23′ S. Glad as we were to leave it behind,
I cannot deny that it was with a certain feeling of melancholy that
we saw it vanish. We had grown so fond of our beacons, and whenever
we met them we greeted them as old friends. Many and great were the
services these silent watchers did us on our long and lonely way.

On the same day we reached our big depot in 80° S., and now we
considered that we were back. We could see at once that others had
been at the depot since we had left it, and we found a message from
Lieutenant Prestrud, the leader of the eastern party, saying that he,
with Stubberud and Johansen, had passed here on November 12, with two
sledges, sixteen dogs, and supplies for thirty days. Everything thus
appeared to be in the best of order. Immediately on arriving at the
depot we let the dogs loose, and they made a dash for the heap of
seal’s flesh, which had been attacked neither by birds nor dogs in
our absence. It was not so much for the sake of eating that our dogs
made their way to the meat mound, as for the sake of fighting. Now
they really had something to fight about. They went round the seals’
carcasses a few times, looked askance at the food and at each other,
and then flung themselves into the wildest scrimmage. When this had
been duly brought to a conclusion, they went away and lay round their
sledges. The depot in 80° S. is still large, well supplied and well
marked, so it is not impossible that it may be found useful later.

The journey from 80° S. to Framheim has been so often described that
there is nothing new to say about it. On January 25, at 4 a.m., we
reached our good little house again, with two sledges and eleven dogs;
men and animals all hale and hearty. We stood and waited for each other
outside the door in the early morning; our appearance must be made all
together. It was so still and quiet — they must be all asleep. We came
in. Stubberud started up in his bunk and glared at us; no doubt he took
us for ghosts. One after another they woke up — not grasping what was
happening. Then there was a hearty welcome home on all sides “Where’s
the Fram?” was of course our first question Our joy was great when we
heard all was well. “And what about the Pole? Have you been there?” —
“Yes, of course; otherwise you would hardly have seen us again.” Then
the coffee kettle was put on, and the perfume of “hot cakes” rose as
in old days. We agreed that it was good outside, but still better at
home. Ninety-nine days the trip had taken. Distance about 1,860 miles.

The Franz had come in to the Barrier on January 8, after a three
months’ voyage from Buenos Aires; all were well on board. Meanwhile,
bad weather had forced her to put out again. On the following day the
lookout man reported that the Fram was approaching There was life in
the camp; on with furs and out with the dogs. They should see that our
dogs were not worn out yet. We heard the engine panting and grunting,
saw the crow’s-nest appear over the edge of the Barrier, and at last
she glided in, sure and steady. It was with a joyful heart I went
on board and greeted all these gallant men, who had brought the
Franz to her destination through so many fatigues and perils, and
had accomplished so much excellent work on the way. They all looked
pleased and happy, but nobody asked about the Pole. At last it slipped
out of Gjertsen: “Have you been there?” Joy is a poor name for the
feeling that beamed in my comrades’ faces; it was something more.

I shut myself up in the chart-house with Captain Nilsen, who gave
me my mail and all the news. Three names stood high above the rest,
when I was able to understand all that had happened — the names of
the three who gave me their support when it was most needed. I shall
always remember them in respectful gratitude —

H. M. The King, Professor Fridtjof Nansen, Don Pedro Christophersen.



After two days of bustle in getting on board the things we were
to take with us, we managed to be ready for sea on the afternoon of
January 30. There could scarcely have been anything at that moment that
rejoiced us more than just that fact, that we were able at so early a
date to set our course northward and thus take the first step on the
way to that world which, as we knew, would soon begin to expect news
from us, or of us. And yet, I wonder whether there was not a little
feeling of melancholy in the midst of all our joy? It can hardly be
doubted that such was really the case, although to many this may seem
a flat contradiction. But it is not altogether so easy to part from
a place that has been one’s home for any length of time, even though
this home lie in the 79th degree of latitude, more or less buried in
snow and ice. We human beings are far too dependent on habit to be
able to tear ourselves abruptly from the surroundings with which we
have been obliged to be familiar for many months. That outsiders would
perhaps pray all the powers of goodness to preserve them from such
surroundings, does not counteract the full validity of this rule. To
an overwhelming majority of our fellow-men Framheim will certainly
appear as one of those spots on our planet where they would least of
all wish to find themselves — a God-forsaken, out-of-the-way hole
that could offer nothing but the very climax of desolation, discomfort,
and boredom. To us nine, who stood on the gangway ready to leave this
place, things appeared somewhat differently. That strong little house,
that now lay entirely hidden beneath the snow behind Mount Nelson, had
for a whole year been our home, and a thoroughly good and comfortable
home it was, where after so many a hard day’s work we had found all
the rest and quiet we wanted. Through the whole Antarctic winter —
and it is a winter — those four walls had protected us so well that
many a poor wretch in milder latitudes would have envied us with all
his heart, if he could have seen us. In conditions so hard that every
form of life flies headlong from them, we had lived on at Framheim
undisturbed and untroubled, and lived, be it said, not as animals,
but as civilized human beings, who had always within their reach most
of the good things that are found in a well-ordered home. Darkness
and cold reigned outside, and the blizzards no doubt did their best
to blot out most traces of our activity, but these enemies never came
within the door of our excellent dwelling; there we shared quarters
with light and warmth and comfort. What wonder was it that this spot
exercised a strong attraction upon each of us at the moment when we
were to turn our backs upon it for good? Outside the great world
beckoned to us, that is true; and it might have much to offer us
that we had had to forego for a long time; but in what awaited us
there was certainly a great deal that we would gladly have put off
for as long as possible. When everyday life came with its cares and
worries, it might well happen that we should look back with regret
to our peaceful and untroubled existence at Framheim.

However, this feeling of melancholy was hardly so strong that we
could not all get over it comparatively quickly. Judging by the
faces, at any rate, one would have thought that joy was the most
predominant mood. And why not? It was no use dwelling on the past,
however attractive it might seem just then, and as to the future, we
had every right to expect the best of it. Who cared to think of coming
troubles? No one. Therefore the Fram was dressed with flags from stem
to stern, and therefore faces beamed at each other as we said good-bye
to our home on the Barrier. We could leave it with the consciousness
that the object of our year’s stay had been attained, and, after all,
this consciousness was of considerably more weight than the thought
that we had been so happy there. One thing that in the course of our
two years’ association on this expedition contributed enormously to
making time pass easily and keeping each of us in full vigour was
the entire absence of what I may call “dead periods.” As soon as one
problem was solved, another instantly appeared. No sooner was one goal
reached, than the next one beckoned from afar. In this way we always
had our hands full, and when that is the case, as everyone knows,
time flies quickly. One often hears it asked, How is it possible to
make the time pass on such a trip? My good friends, I would answer,
if anything caused us worry, it was the thought of how we should
find time enough for all we had to do. Perhaps to many this assertion
will bear the stamp of improbability; it is, nevertheless, absolutely
true. Those who have read this narrative through will, in any case,
have received the impression that unemployment was an evil that was
utterly unknown in our little community.

At the stage where we now found ourselves, with the main object of
our enterprise achieved, there might have been reason to expect
a certain degree of relaxation of interest. This, however, was
not the case. The fact was that what we had done would have no
real value until it was brought to the knowledge of mankind, and
this communication had to be made with as little loss of time as
possible. If anyone was interested in being first in the market it was
certainly ourselves. The probability was, no doubt, that we were out
in good time; but, in spite of all, it was only a probability. On the
other hand, it was absolutely certain that we had a voyage of 2,400
nautical miles to Hobart, which had been selected as our first port
of call; and it was almost equally certain that this voyage would be
both slow and troublesome. A year before our trip through Ross Sea had
turned out almost like a pleasure cruise, but that was in the middle of
summer. Now we were in February, and autumn was at hand. As regards the
belt of drift-ice, Captain Nilsen thought that would cause us no delay
in future. He had discovered a patent and infallible way of getting
through! This sounded like a rather bold assertion, but, as will be
seen later, he was as good as his word. Our worst troubles would be
up in the westerlies, where we should this time be exposed to the
unpleasant possibility of having to beat. The difference in longitude
between the Bay of Whales and Hobart is nearly fifty degrees. If we
could have sailed off this difference in longitude in the latitudes
where we then were, and where a degree of longitude is only about
thirteen nautical miles, it would all have been done in a twinkling;
but the mighty mountain ranges of North Victoria Land were a decisive
obstacle. We should first have to follow a northerly course until we
had rounded the Antarctic Continent’s northern outpost, Cape Adare,
and the Balleny Islands to the north of it. Not till then would the
way be open for us to work to the west; but then we should be in a
region where in all probability the wind would be dead against us,
and as to tacking with the Fram — no, thank you! Every single man on
board knew enough of the conditions to be well aware of what awaited
us, and it is equally certain that the thoughts of all were centred
upon how we might conquer our coming difficulties in the best and
quickest way. It was the one great, common object that still bound,
and would continue to bind, us all together in our joint efforts.

Among the items of news that we had just received from the outer
world was the message that the Australian Antarctic Expedition under
Dr. Douglas Mawson would be glad to take over some of our dogs,
if we had any to spare. The base of this expedition was Hobart,
and as far as that went, this suited us very well. It chanced that
we were able to do our esteemed colleague this small service. On
leaving the Barrier we could show a pack of thirty-nine dogs, many
of which had grown up during our year’s stay there; about half had
survived the whole trip from Norway, and eleven had been at the South
Pole. It had been our intention only to keep a suitable number as the
progenitors of a new pack for the approaching voyage in the Arctic
Ocean, but Dr. Mawson’s request caused us to take all the thirty-nine
on board. Of these dogs, if nothing unforeseen happened, we should be
able to make over twenty-one to him. When the last load was brought
down, there was nothing to do but to pull the dogs over the side,
and then we were ready. It was quite curious to see how several of
the old veterans seemed at home again on the Fram’s deck. Wisting’s
brave dog, the old Colonel, with his two adjutants, Suggen and Arne,
at once took possession of the places where they had stood for so
many a long day on the voyage south — on the starboard side of the
mainmast; the two twins, Mylius and Ring, Helmer Hanssen’s special
favourites, began their games away in the corner of the fore-deck
to port, as though nothing had happened. To look at those two merry
rascals no one would have thought they had trotted at the head of
the whole caravan both to and from the Pole. One solitary dog could
be seen stalking about, lonely and reserved, in a continual uneasy
search. This was the boss of Bjaaland’s team. He was unaffected by
any advances; no one could take the place of his fallen comrade and
friend, Frithjof, who had long ago found a grave in the stomachs of
his companions many hundreds of miles across the Barrier.

No sooner was the last dog helped on board, and the two ice-anchors
released, than the engine-room telegraph rang, and the engine was at
once set going to keep us from any closer contact with the ice-foot
in the Bay of Whales. Our farewell to this snug harbour took almost
the form of a leap from one world to another; the fog hung over us
as thick as gruel, concealing all the surrounding outlines behind its
clammy curtain, as we stood out. After a lapse of three or four hours,
it lifted quite suddenly, but astern of us the bank of fog still stood
like a wall; behind it the panorama, which we knew would have looked
wonderful in clear weather, and which we should so gladly have let
our eyes rest upon as long as we could, was entirely concealed.

The same course we had steered when coming in a year before could
safely be taken in the opposite direction now we were going out. The
outlines of the bay had remained absolutely unchanged during the year
that had elapsed. Even the most projecting point of the wall on the
west side of the bay, Cape Man’s Head, stood serenely in its old place,
and it looked as if it was in no particular hurry to remove itself. It
will probably stay where it is for many a long day yet, for if any
movement of the ice mass is taking place at the inner end of the bay,
it is in any case very slight. Only in one respect did the condition of
things differ somewhat this year from the preceding. Whereas in 1911
the greater part of the bay was free of sea-ice as early as January
14, in 1912 there was no opening until about fourteen days later. The
ice-sheet had stubbornly held on until the fresh north-easterly
breeze, that appeared on the very day the southern party returned,
had rapidly provided a channel of open water. The breaking up of the
ice could not possibly have taken place at a more convenient moment;
the breeze in question saved us a great deal, both of time and trouble,
as the way to the place where the Fram lay before the ice broke up
was about five times as long as the distance we now had to go. This
difference of fourteen days in the time of the disappearance of the
ice in two summers showed us how lucky we had been to choose that
particular year — 1911 — for our landing here. The work which we
carried out in three weeks in 1911, thanks to the early breaking up
of the ice, would certainly have taken us double the time in 1912,
and would have caused us far more difficulty and trouble.

The thick fog that, as I have said, lay over the Bay of Whales when we
left it, prevented us also from seeing what our friends the Japanese
were doing. The Kainan Maru had put to sea in company with the Fram
during the gale of January 27, and since that time we had seen nothing
of them. Those members of the expedition who had been left behind in
a tent on the edge of the Barrier to the north of Framheim had also
been very retiring of late. On the day we left the place, one of our
own party had an interview with two of the foreigners. Prestrud had
gone to fetch the flag that had been set up on Cape Man’s Head as a
signal to the Fram that all had returned. By the side of the flag a
tent had been put up, which was intended as a shelter for a lookout
man, in case the Fram had been delayed. When Prestrud came up, he was
no doubt rather surprised to find himself face to face with two sons
of Nippon, who were engaged in inspecting our tent and its contents,
which, however, only consisted of a sleeping-bag and a Primus. The
Japanese had opened the conversation with enthusiastic phrases about
“nice day” and “plenty ice”; when our man had expressed his absolute
agreement on these indisputable facts, he tried to get information
on matters of more special interest. The two strangers told him that
for the moment they were the only inhabitants of the tent out on
the edge of the Barrier. Two of their companions had gone on a tour
into the Barrier to make meteorological observations, and were to be
away about a week. The Kainan Maru had gone on another cruise in the
direction of King Edward Land. As far as they knew, it was intended
that the ship should be back before February 10, and that all the
members of the expedition should then go on board and sail to the
north. Prestrud had invited his two new acquaintances to visit us at
Framheim, the sooner the better; they delayed their coming too long,
however, for us to be able to wait for them. If they have since been
at Framheim, they will at any rate be able to bear witness that we
did our best to make things comfortable for any successors.

When the fog lifted, we found ourselves surrounded by open sea,
practically free from ice, on all sides. A blue-black sea, with a
heavy, dark sky above it, is not usually reckoned among the sights
that delight the eye. To our organs of vision it was a real relief to
come into surroundings where dark colours predominated. For months
we had been staring at a dazzling sea of white, where artificial
means had constantly to be employed to protect the eyes against the
excessive flood of light. As a rule, it was even necessary to limit
the exposure of the pupils to a minimum, and to draw the eyelids
together. Now we could once more look on the world with open eyes,
literally “without winking “; even such a commonplace thing as this
is an experience in one’s life. Ross Sea showed itself again on its
most favourable side. A cat’s paw of south-westerly wind enabled us
to use the sails, so that after a lapse of two days we were already
about two hundred miles from the Barrier. Modest as this distance
may be in itself, when seen on the chart it looked quite imposing in
our eyes. It must be remembered that, with the means of transport we
had employed on land, it cost us many a hard day’s march to cover a
distance of two hundred geographical miles.

Nilsen had marked on the chart the limits of the belt of drift-ice
during the three passages the Fram had already made. The supposition
that an available opening is always to be found in the neighbourhood
of the 150th meridian appears to be confirmed. The slight changes in
the position of the channel were only caused, according to Nilsen’s
experiences, by variations in the direction of the wind. He had found
that it always answered his purpose to turn and try to windward, if the
pack showed signs of being close. This mode of procedure naturally had
the effect of making the course somewhat crooked, but to make up for
this it had always resulted in his finding open water. On this trip
we reached the edge of the pack-ice belt three days after leaving the
Barrier. The position of the belt proved to be very nearly the same
as on previous passages. After we had held our course for some hours,
however, the ice became so thick that it looked badly for our further
progress. Now was the time to try Nilsen’s method: the wind, which,
by the way, was quite light, came about due west, and accordingly
the helm was put to starboard and the bow turned to the west. For a
good while we even steered true south, but it proved that this fairly
long turn had not been made in vain; after we had worked our way to
windward for a few hours, we found openings in numbers. If we had held
our course as we began, it is not at all impossible that we should have
been delayed for a long time, with a free passage a few miles away.

After having accomplished this first long turn, we escaped having to
make any more in future. The ice continued slack, and on February
6 the rapidly increasing swell told us that we had done with the
Antarctic drift-ice for good. I doubt if we saw a single seal during
our passage through the ice-belt this time; and if we had seen any,
we should scarcely have allowed the time for shooting them. There
was plenty of good food both for men and dogs this time, without our
having recourse to seal-beef. For the dogs we had brought all our
remaining store of the excellent dogs’ pemmican, and that was not
a little. Besides this, we had a good lot of dried fish. They had
fish and pemmican on alternate days. On this diet the animals kept
in such splendid condition that, when on arrival at Hobart they had
shed most of their rough winter coats, they looked as if they had
been in clover for a year.

For the nine of us who had just joined the ship, our comrades on board
had brought all the way from Buenos Aires several fat pigs, that were
now living in luxury in their pen on the after-deck; in addition to
these, three fine sheep’s carcasses hung in the workroom. It need
scarcely be said that we were fully capable of appreciating these
unexpected luxuries. Seal-beef, no doubt, had done excellent service,
but this did not prevent roast mutton and pork being a welcome change,
especially as they came as a complete surprise. I hardly think one
of us had counted on the possibility of getting fresh meat before we
were back again in civilization.

On her arrival at the Bay of Whales there were eleven men on board
the Fram, all included. Instead of Kutschin and Nцdtvedt, who had gone
home from Buenos Aires while the ship was there in the autumn of 1911,
three new men were engaged — namely, Halvorsen, Olsen and Steller;
the two first-named were from Bergen; Steller was a German, who had
lived for several years in Norway, and talked Norwegian like a native.

All three were remarkably efficient and friendly men; it was a pleasure
to have any dealings with them. I venture to think that they, too,
found themselves at home in our company; they were really only engaged
until the Fram called at the first port, but they stayed on board all
the way to Buenos Aires, and will certainly go with us farther still.

When the shore party came on board, Lieutenant Prestrud took up his
old position as first officer; the others began duty at once. All
told, we were now twenty men on board, and after the Fram had sailed
for a year rather short-handed, she could now be said to have a
full crew again. On this voyage we had no special work outside the
usual sea routine, and so long as the weather was fair, we had thus
a comparatively quiet life on board. But the hours of watch on deck
passed quickly enough, I expect; there was material in plenty for many
a long chat now. If we, who came from land, showed a high degree of
curiosity about what had been going on in the world, the sea-party
were at least as eager to have full information of every detail of
our year-long stay on the Barrier. One must almost have experienced
something similar oneself to be able to form an idea of the hail
of questions that is showered upon one on such an occasion. What we
land-lubbers had to relate has been given in outline in the preceding
chapters. Of the news we heard from outside, perhaps nothing interested
us so much as the story of how the change in the plan of the expedition
had been received at home and abroad.

It must have been at least a week before there was any noticeable ebb
in the flood of questions and answers. That week went by quickly;
perhaps more quickly than we really cared for, since it proved
that the Fram was not really able to keep pace with time. The
weather remained quite well behaved, but not exactly in the way we
wished. We had reckoned that the south-easterly and easterly winds,
so frequent around Framheim, would also show themselves out in
Ross Sea, but they entirely forgot to do so. We had little wind,
and when there was any, it was, as a rule, a slant from the north,
always enough to delay our honest old ship. It was impossible to take
any observations for the first eight days, the sky was continuously
overcast. If one occasionally asked the skipper about her position,
he usually replied that the only thing that could be said for certain
was that we were in Ross Sea. On February 7, however, according to a
fairly good noon observation, we were well to the north of Cape Adare,
and therefore beyond the limits of the Antarctic Continent. On the
way northward we passed Cape Adare at a distance hardly greater than
could have been covered with a good day’s sailing; but our desire
of making this detour had to give way to the chief consideration —
northward, northward as quickly as possible.

There is usually plenty of wind in the neighbourhood of bold
promontories, and Cape Adare is no exception in this respect; it is
well known as a centre of bad weather. Nor did we slip by without
getting a taste of this; but it could not have been more welcome,
as it happened that the wind was going the same way as ourselves. Two
days of fresh south-east wind took us comparatively quickly past the
Balleny Islands, and on February 9 we could congratulate ourselves on
being well out of the south frigid zone. It was with joy that we had
crossed the Antarctic Circle over a year ago, going south; perhaps
we rejoiced no less at crossing it this time in the opposite direction.

In the bustle of getting away from our winter-quarters there had been
no time for any celebration of the fortunate reunion of the land
and sea parties. As this occasion for festivity had been let slip,
we had to look out for another, and we agreed that the day of our
passage from the frigid to the temperate zone afforded a very good
excuse. The pre-arranged part of the programme was extremely simple:
an extra cup of coffee, duly accompanied by punch and cigars, and
some music on the gramophone. Our worthy gramophone could not offer
anything that had the interest of novelty to us nine who had wintered
at Framheim: we knew the whole repertoire pretty well by heart; but
the well-known melodies awakened memories of many a pleasant Saturday
evening around the toddy table in our cosy winter home down at the
head of the Bay of Whales — memories which we need not be ashamed
of recalling. On board the Fram gramophone music had not been heard
since Christmas Eve, 1910, and the members of the sea party were glad
enough to encore more than one number.

Outside the limits of the programme we were treated to an extra number
by a singer, who imitated the gramophone in utilizing a big megaphone,
to make up for the deficiencies of his voice — according to his
own statement. He hid behind the curtain of Captain Nilsen’s cabin,
and through the megaphone came a ditty intended to describe life on
the Barrier from its humorous side. It was completely successful,
and we again had a laugh that did us good. Performances of this kind,
of course, only have a value to those who have taken part in or are
acquainted with the events to which they refer. In case any outsider
may be interested in seeing what our entertainment was like, a few
of the verses are given here.

It must be remarked that the author composed his production in the
supposition that we should be able to meet by Christmas, and he
therefore proposed that for the moment we should imagine ourselves
to be celebrating that festival. We made no difficulty about acceding
to his request:

Well, here we are assembled to jollity once more,
Some from off the ocean and the rest from off the shore.
A year has passed since last we met and all are safe and sound,
Then let us banish all our cares and join our hands all round.
Christmas, happy Christmas! let us pass the flowing bowl,
Fill your glasses all, and let’s make “Sails” a wee bit full.
For all I’ll say is this — that it’s in his country’s cause;
If he staggers just a little, it is in his country’s cause.

Now you sailor boys shall hear about the time we have gone through:
The winter — well, it wasn’t long, we had so much to do.
There was digging snow, and sleeping — you can bet we’re good at
that — And eating, too — no wonder that we’re all a little fat.
We had hot cakes for our breakfast and “hermetik” each day,
Mutton pies, ragouts and curries, for that is Lindstrцm’s way.
But all I’ll say is this — that ’twas in our country’s cause,
If we stuffed ourselves with dainties, it was in our country’s cause.

September came and off we went — that trip was pretty tough;
Our compasses all went on strike, they thought it cold enough.
The brandy in the Captain’s flask froze to a lump of ice;
We all agreed, both men and dogs, such weather wasn’t nice.
So back we went to Framheim to thaw our heels and toes;
It could not be quite healthy when our feet and fingers froze.
But all I say is this — that ’twas in our country’s cause,
And we did not mind a frost-bite when ’twas in our country’s cause.

The sun came up and warmed us then a little day by day;
Five men went out again and toiled along the southern way.
This time they conquered snow and ice, and all the world may hear
That Norway’s flag flies at the Pole. Now, boys, a ringing cheer
For him who led them forward through the mountains and the plain,
Up to the goal they aimed at, and safely back again.
But all I’ll say is this — that ’twas in his country’s cause;
If he went through and won the Pole, ’twas in his country’s cause.

It could soon be noticed, in one way and another, that we had reached
latitudes where existence took a very different aspect from what
we had been accustomed to south of the 66th parallel. One welcome
change was the rise in temperature; the mercury now climbed well above
freezing-point, and those individuals on board who were still more or
less clad in skins, shed the last remnants of their Polar garb for a
lighter and more convenient costume. Those who waited longest before
making the change were the ones who belonged to the shore party. The
numerous people who imagine that a long stay in the Polar regions
makes a man less susceptible of cold than other mortals are completely
mistaken. The direct opposite is more likely to be the case. A man
who stays some time in a place where the everyday temperature is
down in the fifties below zero, or more than that, will not trouble
himself greatly about the cold, so long as he has good and serviceable
skin clothing. Let the same man, rigged out in civilized clothes,
be suddenly put down in the streets of Christiania on a winter day,
with thirty or thirty-five degrees of frost, and the poor fellow’s
teeth will chatter till they fall out of his mouth. The fact is, that
on a Polar trip one defends oneself effectively against the cold; when
one comes back, and has to go about with the protection afforded by
an overcoat, a stiff collar, and a hard hat — well, then one feels it.

A less welcome consequence of the difference in latitude was the
darkening of the nights. It may be admitted that continual daylight
would be unpleasant in the long run ashore, but aboard ship an
everlasting day would certainly be preferred, if such a thing could be
had. Even if we might now consider that we had done with the principal
mass of Antarctic ice, we still had to reckon with its disagreeable
outposts — the icebergs. It has already been remarked that a practised
look-out man can see the blink of one of the larger bergs a long way
off in the dark, but when it is a question of one of the smaller masses
of ice, of which only an inconsiderable part rises above the surface,
there is no such brightness, and therefore no warning. A little lump
like this is just as dangerous as a big berg; you run the same risks in
a possible collision of knocking a hole in the bows or carrying away
the rigging. In these transitional regions, where the temperature of
the water is always very low, the thermometer is a very doubtful guide.

The waters in which we were sailing are not yet so well known as to
exclude the possibility of meeting with land. Captain Colbeck, who
commanded one of the relief ships sent south during Scott’s first
expedition, came quite unexpectedly upon a little island to the
east of Cape Adare; this island was afterwards named after Captain
Scott. When Captain Colbeck made his discovery, he was about on the
course that has usually been taken by ships whose destination was
within the limits of Ross Sea. There is still a possibility that in
going out of one’s course, voluntarily or involuntarily, one may find
more groups of islands in that part.

On the current charts of the South Pacific there are marked several
archipelagoes and islands, the position of which is not a little
doubtful. One of these — Emerald Island — is charted as lying almost
directly in the course we had to follow to reach Hobart. Captain Davis,
who took Shackleton’s ship, the Nimrod, home to England in 1909,
sailed, however, right over the point where Emerald Island should
be found according to the chart without seeing anything of it. If it
exists at all, it is, at any rate, incorrectly charted. In order to
avoid its vicinity, and still more in order to get as far as possible
to the west before we came into the westerly belt proper, we pressed
on as much as we could for one hard week, or perhaps nearer two; but
a continual north-west wind seemed for a long time to leave us only
two disagreeable possibilities, either of drifting to the eastward, or
of finding ourselves down in the drift-ice to the north of Wilkes Land.

Those weeks were a very severe trial of patience to the many on
board who were burning with eagerness to get ashore with our news,
and perhaps to hear some in return. When the first three weeks of
February were past, we were not much more than half-way; with anything
like favourable conditions we ought to have arrived by that time. The
optimists always consoled us by saying that sooner or later there
would be a change for the better, and at last it came. A good spell
of favourable wind took us at a bound well to the windward both of
the doubtful Emerald Island and of the authentic Macquarie group to
the north of it. It may be mentioned in passing, that at the time we
went by, the most southerly wireless telegraphy station in the world
was located on one of the Macquarie Islands. The installation belonged
to Dr. Mawson’s Antarctic expedition. Dr. Mawson also took with him
apparatus for installing a station on the Antarctic Continent itself,
but, so far as is known, no connection was accomplished the first year.

During this fortunate run we had come so far to the west that our
course to Hobart was rapidly approaching true north. On the other hand,
we should have liked to be able to take advantage of the prevailing
winds, — the westerlies. These vary little from one year to another,
and we found them much the same as we had been accustomed to before:
frequent, stiff breezes from the north-west, which generally held for
about twelve hours, and then veered to west or south-west. So long
as the north-wester was blowing, there was nothing to do but to lie
to with shortened sail; when the change of wind came, we made a few
hours’ progress in the right direction. In this way we crept step by
step northward to our destination. It was slow enough, no doubt; but
every day the line of our course on the chart grew a little longer,
and towards the end of February the distance between us and the
southern point of Tasmania had shrunk to very modest dimensions.

With the constant heavy westerly swell, the Fram, light as she now
was, surpassed herself in rolling, and that is indeed saying a great
deal. This rolling brought us a little damage to the rigging, the
gaff of the mainsail breaking; however, that affair did not stop us
long. The broken spar was quickly replaced by a spare gaff.

Our hopes of arriving before the end of February came to naught,
and a quarter of March went by before our voyage was at an end.

On the afternoon of March 4, we had our first glimpse of land; but,
as the weather was by no means clear and we had not been able to
determine our longitude with certainty for two days, we were uncertain
which point of Tasmania we had before us. To explain the situation,
a short description of the coast-line is necessary. The southern
angle of Tasmania runs out in three promontories; off the easternmost
of these, and only divided from it by a very narrow channel, lies a
steep and apparently inaccessible island, called Tasman Island. It is,
however, accessible, for on the top of it — 900 feet above the sea
— stands a lighthouse. The middle promontory is called Tasman Head,
and between this and the eastern one we have Storm Bay, which forms
the approach to Hobart; there, then, lay our course. The question was,
which of the three heads we had sighted. This was difficult, or rather
impossible, to decide, so indistinct was the outline of the land in
the misty air; it was also entirely unknown to us, as not one of us
had ever before been in this corner of the world. When darkness came
on, a heavy rain set in, and without being able to see anything at
all, we lay there feeling our way all night. With the appearance of
daylight a fresh south-west wind came and swept away most of the rain,
so that we could again make out the land. We decided that what we saw
was the middle promontory, Tasman Head, and gaily set our course into
Storm Bay — as we thought. With the rapidly strengthening breeze we
went spinningly, and the possibility of reaching Hobart in a few hours
began to appear as a dead certainty. With this comfortable feeling
we had just sat down to the breakfast table in the fore-saloon, when
the door was pulled open with what seemed unnecessary violence, and
the face of the officer of the watch appeared in the doorway. “We’re
on the wrong side of the head,” was the sinister message, and the
face disappeared. Good-bye to our pleasant plans, good-bye to our
breakfast! All hands went on deck at once, and it was seen only too
well that the melancholy information was correct. We had made a mistake
in the thick rain. The wind, that had now increased to a stiff breeze,
had chased the rain-clouds from the tops of the hills, and on the
point we had taken for Tasman Head, we now saw the lighthouse. It
was therefore Tasman Island, and instead of being in Storm Bay, we
were out in the open Pacific, far to leeward of the infamous headland.

There was nothing to be done but to beat and attempt to work our way
back to windward, although we knew it would be practically labour in
vain. The breeze increased to a gale, and instead of making any headway
we had every prospect of drifting well to leeward; that was the usual
result of trying to beat with the Fram. Rather annoyed though we were,
we set to work to do what could be done, and with every square foot of
canvas set the Fram pitched on her way close-hauled. To begin with,
it looked as if we held our own more or less, but as the distance
from land increased and the wind got more force, our bearings soon
showed us that we were going the way the hen kicks. About midday we
went about and stood in towards land again; immediately after came a
violent squall which tore the outer jib to ribbons; with that we were
also obliged to take in the mainsail, otherwise it would pretty soon
have been caught aback, and there would have been further damage to
the rigging. With the remaining sails any further attempt was useless;
there was nothing left but to get as close under the lee of the land
as we could and try with the help of the engine to hold our own till
the weather moderated. How it blew that afternoon! One gust after
another came dancing down the slopes of the hills, and tore at the
rigging till the whole vessel shook. The feeling on board was, as
might be expected, somewhat sultry, and found an outlet in various
expressions the reverse of gentle. Wind, weather, fate, and life in
general were inveighed against, but this availed little. The peninsula
that separated us from Storm Bay still lay there firm and immovable,
and the gale went on as if it was in no hurry to let us get round. The
whole day went by, and the greater part of the night, without any
change taking place. Not till the morning of the 6th did our prospects
begin to improve. The wind became lighter and went more to the south;
that was, of course, the way we had to go, but by hugging the shore,
where we had perfectly smooth water, we succeeded in working our
way down to Tasman Island before darkness fell. The night brought
a calm, and that gave us our chance. The engine worked furiously,
and a slight favourable current contributed to set us on our way. By
dawn on the 7th we were far up Storm Bay and could at last consider
ourselves masters of the situation.

It was a sunny day, and our faces shone in rivalry with the sun;
all trace of the last two days’ annoyances had vanished. And soon
the Fram, too, began to shine. The white paint on deck had a thorough
overhauling with soap and water in strong solution. The Ripolin was
again as fresh as when new. When this had been seen to, the outward
appearance of the men also began to undergo a striking change. The
Iceland jackets and “blanket costumes” from Horten gave way to “shore
clothes” of the most varied cut, hauled out after a two years’ rest;
razors and scissors had made a rich harvest, and sailmaker Rцnne’s
fashionable Burberry caps figured on most heads. Even Lindstrцm,
who up to date had held the position among the land party of being
its heaviest, fattest, and blackest member, showed unmistakable signs
of having been in close contact with water.

Meanwhile we were nearing a pilot station, and a bustling little motor
launch swung alongside. “Want a pilot, captain?” One positively started
at the sound of the first new human voice. Communication with the outer
world was again established. The pilot — a brisk, good-humoured old
man — looked about him in surprise when he came up on to our deck. “I
should never have imagined things were so clean and bright on board a
Polar ship,” he said; “nor should I have thought from the look of you
that you had come from Antarctica. You look as if you had had nothing
but a good time.” We could assure him of that, but as to the rest, it
was not our intention just yet to allow ourselves to be pumped, and
the old man could see that. He had no objection to our pumping him,
though he had no very great store of news to give us. He had heard
nothing of the Terra Nova; on the other hand, he was able to tell
us that Dr. Mawson’s ship, the Aurora, commanded by Captain Davis,
might be expected at Hobart any day. They had been looking out for
the Fram since the beginning of February, and had given us up long
ago. That was a surprise, anyhow.

Our guest evidently had no desire to make the acquaintance of our
cuisine; at any rate, he very energetically declined our invitation
to breakfast. Presumably he was afraid of being treated to dog’s
flesh or similar original dishes. On the other hand, he showed great
appreciation of our Norwegian tobacco. He had his handbag pretty
nearly full when he left us.

Hobart Town lies on the bank of the Derwent River, which runs into
Storm Bay. The surroundings are beautiful, and the soil evidently
extremely fertile; but woods and fields were almost burnt up on our
arrival; a prolonged drought had prevailed, and made an end of all
green things. To our eyes it was, however, an unmixed delight to look
upon meadows and woods, even if their colours were not absolutely
fresh. We were not very difficult to please on that score.

The harbour of Hobart is an almost ideal one, large and remarkably
well protected. As we approached the town, the usual procession of
harbour-master, doctor, and Custom-house officers came aboard. The
doctor soon saw that there was no work for his department, and the
Custom-house officers were easily convinced that we had no contraband
goods. The anchor was dropped, and we were free to land. I took my
cablegrams, and accompanied the harbour-master ashore.


The Eastern Sledge Journey

By Lieutenant K. Prestrud

On October 20, 1911, the southern party started on their long
journey. The departure took place without much ceremony, and with the
smallest possible expenditure of words. A hearty grasp of the hand
serves the purpose quite as well on such occasions. I accompanied them
to the place we called the starting-point, on the south side of the
bay. After a final “Good luck” to our Chief and comrades — as sincere
a wish as I have ever bestowed upon anyone — I cinematographed the
caravan, and very soon after it was out of sight. Those fellows went
southward at a great pace, Helmer Hanssen’s quick-footed team leading
as usual.

There I stood, utterly alone, and I cannot deny that I was a prey
to somewhat mixed feelings. When should we see those five again,
who had just disappeared from view on the boundless plain, and in
what conditions? What sort of a report would they bring of the
result? There was plenty of room for guesses here, and abundant
opportunity for weighing every possibility, good and bad; but there
was very little to be gained by indulging in speculations of that
sort. The immediate facts first claimed attention. One fact, amongst
others, was that Framheim was a good three miles away; another was
that the cinematograph apparatus weighed a good many pounds; and a
third that Lindstrцm would be mightily put out if I arrived too late
for dinner. Our chef insisted on a high standard of punctuality in the
matter of meal-times. Homeward, then, at the best speed possible. The
speed, however, was not particularly good, and I began to prepare for
the consequences of a long delay. On the other side of the bay I could
just make out a little black speck, that seemed to be in motion towards
me. I thought at first it was a seal, but, fortunately, it turned
out to be Jцrgen Stubberud with six dogs and a sledge. This was quite
encouraging: in the first place, I should get rid of my unmanageable
burden, and in the second I might expect to get on faster. Stubberud’s
team consisted, however, of four intractable puppies, besides Puss and
another courser of similar breed; the result was that our pace was a
modest one and our course anything but straight, so that we arrived
at Framheim two hours after the time appointed for dinner. Those who
know anything of Master Lindstrцm and his disposition will easily be
able from this explanation to form an idea of his state of mind at
the moment when we entered the door. Yes, he was undoubtedly angry,
but we were at least equally hungry; and if anything can soften the
heart of a Norwegian caterer, it is a ravenous appetite in those he
has to feed, provided, of course, that he have enough to offer them,
and Lindstrцm’s supplies were practically unlimited.

I remember that dinner well: at the same table where eight of us had
sat for so many months, there were now only three left — Johansen,
Stubberud, and I. We had more room, it is true, but that gain was a
poor satisfaction. We missed those who had gone very badly, and our
thoughts were always following them. The first thing we discussed on
this occasion was how many miles they might be expected to do that
day: nor was this the last dispute we had on the same theme. During
the weeks and months that followed, it was constantly to the fore,
and gave plenty of material for conversation when we had exhausted
our own concerns. As regards these latter, my instructions were

1. To go to King Edward VII. Land, and there carry out what exploration
time and circumstances might permit.

2. To survey and map the Bay of Whales and its immediate surroundings.

3. As far as possible to keep the station at Framheim in order,
in case we might have to spend another winter there.

As regards time, my orders were to be back at Framheim before we
could reasonably expect the arrival of the Fram. This was, and would
necessarily remain, somewhat uncertain. No doubt we all had a great
idea of the Fram’s capacity for keeping time, and Lieutenant Nilsen
had announced his intention of being back by Christmas or the New
Year; but nevertheless a year is a long time, and there are many
miles in a trip round the world. If we assumed that no mishap had
occurred to the Fram, and that she had left Buenos Aires at the time
fixed in the plan — October 1, 1911 — she would in all probability
be able to arrive at the Bay of Whales about the middle of January,
1912. On the basis of this calculation we decided, if possible, to
get the sledge journey to King Edward Land done before Christmas,
while the surveying work around the bay would have to be postponed
to the first half of January, 1912. I thought, however, seeing the
advantages of working while the bay was still frozen over, that it
would pay to devote a few days — immediately following the departure
of the southern party — to the preparatory work of measuring. But
this did not pay at all. We had reckoned without the weather, and in
consequence were well taken in. When one thinks over it afterwards,
it seems reasonable enough that the final victory of mild weather over
the remains of the Antarctic winter cannot be accomplished without
serious disturbances of the atmospheric conditions. The expulsion of
one evil has to be effected by the help of another; and the weather
was bad with a vengeance. During the two weeks that followed October 20
there were only three or four days that offered any chance of working
with the theodolite and plane-table. We managed to get a base-line
measured, 1,000 metres long, and to lay out the greater part of the
east side of the bay, as well as the most prominent points round the
camp; but one had positively to snatch one’s opportunities by stealth,
and every excursion ended regularly in bringing the instruments home
well covered with snow.

If the bad weather thus put hindrances in the way of the work we
were anxious to do, it made up for it by providing us with a lot of
extra work which we could very well have done without. There was
incessant shovelling of snow to keep any sort of passage open to
the four dog-tents that were left standing, as well as to our own
underground dwelling, over which the snow covering had been growing
constantly higher. The fairly high wall that we had originally built
on the east side of the entrance door was now entirely buried in
the snow-drift. It had given us good protection; now the drift had
unimpeded access, and the opening, like the descent into a cellar,
that led down to the door, was filled up in the course of a few hours
when the wind was in the right quarter. Lindstrцm shook his head when
we sometimes asked him how he would get on by himself if the weather
continued in this way. “So long as there’s nothing but snow in the
way, I’ll manage to get out,” said he. One day he came and told us
that he could no longer get at the coal, and on further investigation
it looked rather difficult. The roof of the place where the coal was
stored had yielded to the pressure of the mass of snow, and the whole
edifice had collapsed. There was nothing to be done but to set to work
at once, and after a great deal of hard labour we got the remainder
of the precious fuel moved into the long snow tunnel that led from
the house to the coal-store. With that our “black diamonds” were in
safety for the time being. This job made us about as black as the
“diamonds.” When we came in the cook, as it happened, had just been
doing a big wash on his own account — a comparatively rare event —
and there was surprise on both sides. The cook was as much taken
aback at seeing us so black as we were at seeing him so clean.

All the snow-shovelling that resulted from the continued bad weather,
in conjunction with the necessary preparations for the sledge journey,
gave us plenty of occupation, but I will venture to say that none of
us would care to go through those days again. We were delayed in our
real work, and delay, which is unpleasant enough in any circumstances,
was all the more unwelcome down here, where time is so precious. As
we only had two sledges on which to transport supplies for three
men and sixteen dogs, besides all our outfit, and as on our trip we
should have no depots to fall back on, the duration of the journey
could not be extended much beyond six weeks. In order to be back
again by Christmas, we had, therefore, to leave before the middle of
November. It would do no harm, however, to be off before this, and as
soon as November arrived we took the first opportunity of disappearing.

On account of getting on the right course, we preferred that the
start should take place in clear weather. The fact was that we were
obliged to go round by the depot in 80° S. As King Edward Land lies to
the east, or rather north-east, of Framheim, this was a considerable
detour; it had to be made, because in September we had left at this
depot all the packed sledging provisions, a good deal of our personal
equipment, and, finally, some of the necessary instruments.

On the way to the depot, about thirty geographical miles south of
Framheim, we had the nasty crevassed surface that had been met with for
the first time on the third depot journey in the autumn of 1911 — in
the month of April. At that time we came upon it altogether unawares,
and it was somewhat remarkable that we escaped from it with the loss
of two dogs. This broken surface lay in a depression about a mile to
the west of the route originally marked out; but, however it may have
been, it seems ever since that time to have exercised an irresistible
attraction. On our first attempt to go south, in September, 1911,
we came right into the middle of it, in spite of the fact that it
was then perfectly clear. I afterwards heard that in spite of all
their efforts, the southern party, on their last trip, landed in this
dangerous region, and that one man had a very narrow escape of falling
in with sledge and dogs. I had no wish to expose myself to the risk of
such accidents — at any rate, while we were on familiar ground. That
would have been a bad beginning to my first independent piece of work
as a Polar explorer. A day or two of fine weather to begin with would
enable us to follow the line originally marked out, and thus keep
safe ground under our feet until the ugly place was passed.

In the opening days of November the weather conditions began to
improve somewhat; in any case, there was not the continual driving
snow. Lindstrцm asked us before we left to bring up a sufficient
quantity of seals, to save him that work as long as possible. The
supply we had had during the winter was almost exhausted; there was
only a certain amount of blubber left. We thought it only fair to
accede to his wish, as it is an awkward business to transport those
heavy beasts alone, especially when one has only a pack of unbroken
puppies to drive. We afterwards heard that Lindstrцm had some amusing
experiences with them during the time he was left alone.

Leaving the transport out of the question, this seal-hunting is a
very tame sport. An old Arctic hand or an Eskimo would certainly be
astounded to see the placid calm with which the Antarctic seal allows
itself to be shot and cut up. To them Antarctica would landed in this
dangerous region, and that one man had a very narrow escape of falling
in with sledge and dogs. I had no wish to expose myself to the risk of
such accidents — at any rate, while we were on familiar ground. That
would have been a bad beginning to my first independent piece of work
as a Polar explorer. A day or two of fine weather to begin with would
enable us to follow the line originally marked out, and thus keep
safe ground under our feet until the ugly place was passed.

In the opening days of November the weather conditions began to
improve somewhat; in any case, there was not the continual driving
snow. Lindstrцm asked us before we left to bring up a sufficient
quantity of seals, to save him that work as long as possible. The
supply we had had during the winter was almost exhausted; there was
only a certain amount of blubber left. We thought it only fair to
accede to his wish, as it is an awkward business to transport those
heavy beasts alone, especially when one has only a pack of unbroken
puppies to drive. We afterwards heard that Lindstrцm had some amusing
experiences with them during the time he was left alone.

Leaving the transport out of the question, this seal-hunting is a
very tame sport. An old Arctic hand or an Eskimo would certainly
be astounded to see the placid calm with which the Antarctic seal
allows itself to be shot and cut up. To them Antarctica would but
it seldom removes itself many yards at a time, for the motions of
the seal are just as clumsy and slow on land as they are active and
swift in the water. When it has crawled with great pains to a little
distance, there is no sign that the interruption has made any lasting
impression on it. It looks more as if it took it all as an unpleasant
dream or nightmare, which it would be best to sleep off as soon as
possible. If one shoots a single seal, this may happen without those
lying round so much as raising their heads. Indeed, we could open
and cut up a seal right before the noses of its companions without
this making the slightest impression on them.

About the beginning of November the seals began to have their young. So
far as we could make out, the females kept out of the water for
several days without taking any food, until the young one was big
enough to be able to go to sea; otherwise, it did not seem that the
mothers cared very much for their little ones. Some, it is true, made
a sort of attempt to protect their offspring if they were disturbed,
but the majority simply left their young ones in the lurch.

As far as we were concerned, we left the females and their young
as much as possible in peace. We killed two or three new-born seals
to get the skins for our collection. It was another matter with the
dogs. With them seal-hunting was far too favourite a sport for the
opportunity to be neglected. Against a full-grown seal, however,
they could do nothing; its body offered no particularly vulnerable
spots, and the thick, tight-fitting skin was too much even for dogs’
teeth. The utmost the rascals could accomplish was to annoy and
torment the object of their attack. It was quite another matter when
the young ones began to arrive. Among this small game the enterprising
hunters could easily satisfy their inborn craving for murder, for the
scoundrels only killed for the sake of killing; they were not at all
hungry, as they had as much food as they liked. Of course, we did all
we could to put a stop to this state of things, and so long as there
were several of us at the hut, we saw that the whole pack was tied up;
but when Lindstrцm was left by himself, he could not manage to hold
them fast. His tents were altogether snowed under in the weather that
prevailed on the seaboard in December. There were not many dogs left
in his charge, but I am afraid those few wrought great havoc among the
young seals out on the ice of the bay. The poor mothers could hardly
have done anything against a lot of dogs, even if they had been more
courageous. Their enemies were too active. For them it was the work
of a moment to snatch the young one from the side of its mother,
and then they were able to take the poor thing’s life undisturbed.

Unfortunately, there were no sea-leopards in the neighbourhood of
Framheim. These, which are far quicker in their movements than the
Weddell seal, and are, moreover, furnished with a formidable set of
teeth, would certainly have made the four-footed seal-hunters more
careful in their behaviour.

After we had brought up to the house enough seals’ carcasses to keep
the ten or twelve dogs that would be left supplied for a good while,
and had cut up a sufficient quantity for our own use on the way to 80°
S., we took the first opportunity of getting away. Before I pass on
to give an account of our trip, I wish to say a few words about my
companions — Johansen and Stubberud. It goes without saying that it
gave me, as a beginner, a great feeling of security to have with me
such a man as Johansen, who possessed many years’ experience of all
that pertains to sledging expeditions; and as regards Stubberud, I
could not have wished for a better travelling companion than him either
— a first-rate fellow, steady and efficient in word and deed. As it
turned out, we were not to encounter very many difficulties, but one
never escapes scot-free on a sledge journey in these regions. I owe
my comrades thanks for the way in which they both did their best to
smooth our path.

Johansen and Stubberud drove their dog-teams; I myself acted as
“forerunner.” The drivers had seven dogs apiece. We took so many,
because we were not quite sure of what the animals we had were fit
for. As was right and proper, the southern party had picked out
the best. Among those at our disposal there were several that had
previously shown signs of being rather quickly tired. True, this
happened under very severe conditions. As it turned out, our dogs
exceeded all our expectations in the easier conditions of work that
prevailed during the summer. On the first part of the way — as far as
the depot in 80° S. — the loads were quite modest. Besides the tent,
the sleeping-bags, our personal outfit, and instruments, we only had
provisions for eight days-seals’ flesh for the dogs, and tinned food
for ourselves. Our real supplies were to be taken from the depot,
where there was enough of everything.

On November 8 we left Framheim, where in future Lindstrцm was to
reside as monarch of all he surveyed. The weather was as fine as
could be wished. I was out with the cinematograph apparatus, in
order if possible to immortalize the start. To complete the series
of pictures, Lindstrцm was to take the forerunner, who was now, be it
said, a good way behind those he was supposed to be leading. With all
possible emphasis I enjoined Lindstrцm only to give the crank five
or six turns, and then started off to catch up the drivers. When
I had nearly reached the provision store I pulled up, struck by a
sudden apprehension. Yes, I was right on looking back I discovered
that incorrigible person still hard at work with the crank, as though
he were going to be paid a pound for every yard of film showing the
back view of the forerunner. By making threatening gestures with a
ski-pole I stopped the too persistent cinematograph, and then went
on to join Stubberud, who was only a few yards ahead. Johansen had
disappeared like a meteor. The last I saw of him was the soles of his
boots, as he quite unexpectedly made an elegant backward somersault
off the sledge when it was passing over a little unevenness by the
provision store. The dogs, of course, made off at full speed, and
Johansen after them like the wind. We all met again safe and sound at
the ascent to the Barrier. Here a proper order of march was formed,
and we proceeded southward.

The Barrier greeted us with a fresh south wind, that now and then made
an attempt to freeze the tip of one’s nose; it did not succeed in this,
but it delayed us a little. It does not take a great deal of wind
on this level plain to diminish the rate of one’s progress. But the
sun shone too gaily that day to allow a trifle of wind to interfere
very much with our enjoyment of life. The surface was so firm that
there was hardly a sign of drift-snow. As it was perfectly clear, the
mark-flags could be followed the whole time, thus assuring us that,
at any rate, the first day’s march would be accomplished without any
deviation from the right track.

At five o’clock we camped, and when we had fed the dogs and come into
the tent we could feel how much easier and pleasanter everything was
at this season than on the former journeys in autumn and spring. We
could move freely in a convenient costume; if we wished, there was
nothing to prevent our performing all the work of the camp with
bare hands and still preserving our finger-tips unharmed. As I had
no dog-team to look after, I undertook the duty of attending to our
own needs; that is to say, I acted as cook. This occupation also was
considerably easier now than it had been when the temperature was
below -60° F. At that time it took half an hour to turn the snow in
the cooker into water; now it was done in ten minutes, and the cook
ran no risk whatever of getting his fingers frozen in the process.

Ever since we landed on the Barrier in January, 1911, we had been
expecting to hear a violent cannonade as the result of the movement of
the mass of ice. We had now lived a whole winter at Framheim without
having observed, as far as I know, the slightest sign of a sound. This
was one of many indications that the ice round our winter-quarters
was not in motion at all.

No one, I believe, had noticed anything of the expected noise on the
sledge journeys either, but at the place where we camped on the night
of November 8 we did hear it. There was a report about once in two
minutes, not exactly loud, but still, there it was. It sounded just
as if there was a whole battery of small guns in action down in the
depths below us. A few hundred yards to the west of the camp there
were a number of small hummocks, which might indicate the presence
of crevasses, but otherwise the surface looked safe enough. The small
guns kept up a lively crackle all through the night, and combined with
a good deal of uproar among the dogs to shorten our sleep. But the
first night of a sledge journey is almost always a bad one. Stubberud
declared that he could not close his eyes on account of “that filthy
row.” He probably expected the ice to open and swallow him up every
time he heard it. The surface, however, held securely, and we turned
out to the finest day one could wish to see. It did not require any
very great strength of mind to get out of one’s sleeping-bag now. The
stockings that had been hung up in the evening could be put on again
as dry as a bone; the sun had seen to that. Our ski boots were as soft
as ever; there was not a sign of frost on them. It is quite curious to
see the behaviour of the dogs when the first head appears through the
tent-door in the morning. They greet their lord and master with the
most unmistakable signs of joy, although, of course, they must know
that his arrival will be followed by many hours of toil, with, perhaps,
a few doses of the whip thrown in; but from the moment he begins to
handle the sledge, the dogs look as if they had no desire in the world
but to get into the harness as soon as possible and start away. On days
like this their troubles would be few; with the light load and good
going we had no difficulty in covering nineteen geographical miles
in eight hours. Johansen’s team was on my heels the whole time, and
Stubberud’s animals followed faithfully behind. From time to time we
saw sledge-tracks quite plainly; we also kept the mark-flags in sight
all day. In the temperatures we now had to deal with our costume was
comparatively light — certainly much lighter than most people imagine;
for there is a kind of summer even in Antarctica, although the daily
readings of the thermometer at this season would perhaps rather remind
our friends at home of what they are accustomed to regard as winter.

In undertaking a sledge journey down there in autumn or spring,
the most extraordinary precautions have to be taken to protect
oneself against the cold. Skin clothing is then the only thing
that is of any use; but at this time of year, when the sun is above
the horizon for the whole twenty-four hours, one can go for a long
time without being more heavily clad than a lumberman working in
the woods. During the march our clothing was usually the following:
two sets of woollen underclothes, of which that nearest the skin was
quite thin. Outside the shirt we wore either an ordinary waistcoat
or a comparatively light knitted woollen jersey. Outside all came our
excellent Burberry clothes — trousers and jacket. When it was calm,
with full sunshine, the Burberry jacket was too warm; we could then
go all day in our shirt-sleeves. To be provided for emergencies,
we all had our thinnest reindeer-skin clothes with us; but, so far
as I know, these were never used, except as pillows or mattresses.

The subject of sleeping-bags has no doubt been thoroughly threshed
out on every Polar expedition. I do not know how many times we
discussed this question, nor can I remember the number of more or
less successful patents that were the fruit of these discussions. In
any case, one thing is certain, that the adherents of one-man bags
were in an overwhelming majority, and no doubt rightly. As regards
two-man bags, it cannot be denied that they enable their occupants
to keep warm longer; but it is always difficult to find room for two
big men in one sack, and if the sack is to be used for sleeping in,
and one of the big men takes to snoring into the other’s ear, the
situation may become quite unendurable. In the temperatures we had
on the summer journeys there was no difficulty in keeping warm enough
with the one-man bags, and they were used by all of us.

On the first southern journey, in September, Johansen and I used a
double bag between us; in the intense cold that prevailed at that
time we managed to get through the night without freezing; but if the
weather is so cold that one cannot keep warmth in one’s body in good,
roomy one-man bags, then it is altogether unfit for sledging journeys.

November 10. — Immediately after the start this morning we tried how
we could get on without a forerunner. As long as we were in the line
of flags this answered very well; the dogs galloped from one flag to
another, while I was able to adopt the easy method of hanging on to
Stubberud’s sledge. About midday we were abreast of the depression
already mentioned, where, on the third depot journey last autumn, we
ran into a regular net of crevasses. This time we were aware of the
danger, and kept to the left; but at the last moment the leading team
ran out to the wrong side, and we cut across the eastern part of the
dangerous zone. Fortunately it was taken at full gallop. It is quite
possible that I inwardly wished we were all a few pounds lighter,
as our little caravan raced across those thin snow bridges, through
which could be seen the blue colour of the ugly gulfs below. But after
the lapse of a few long minutes we could congratulate ourselves on
getting over with our full numbers.

Not for anything would I have gone that mile without ski on my feet; it
would practically have meant falling in and going out. It is, perhaps,
saying a good deal to claim that with ski on, one is absolutely secured
against the danger these crevasses present; if misfortunes are abroad,
anything may happen. But it would require a very considerable amount
of bad luck for man and ski to fall through.

November 11. — In weather like this, going on the march is like
going to a dance: tent, sleeping-bags, and clothes keep soft and dry
as a bone. The thermometer is about -4° F. A fellow-man suddenly put
down in our midst from civilized surroundings would possibly shake
his head at so many degrees of frost, but it must be remembered that
we have long ago abandoned the ordinary ideas of civilized people as
to what is endurable in the way of temperature. We are enthusiastic
about the spring-like weather, especially when we remember what it
was like down here two months ago, when the thermometer showed -76°
F., and the rime hung an inch thick inside the tent, ready to drop
on everything and everybody at the slightest movement. Now there is
no rime to be seen; the sun clears it away. For now there is a sun;
not the feeble imitation of one that stuck its red face above the
northern horizon in August, but our good old acquaintance of lower
latitudes, with his wealth of light and warmth.

After two hours’ march we came in sight, at ten o’clock in the
morning, of the two snow-huts that were built on the last trip. We
made straight for them, thinking we might possibly find some trace
of the southern party. So we did, though in a very different way
from what we expected. We were, perhaps, about a mile off when we
all three suddenly halted and stared at the huts. “There are men,”
said Stubberud. At any rate there was something black that moved,
and after confused thoughts of Japanese, Englishmen, and the like had
flashed through our minds, we at last got out the glasses. It was not
men, but a dog. Well, the presence of a live dog here, seventy-five
miles up the Barrier, was in itself a remarkable thing. It must, of
course, be one of the southern party’s dogs, but how the runaway had
kept himself alive all that time was for the present a mystery. On
coming to closer quarters we soon found that it was one of Hassel’s
dogs, Peary by name. He was a little shy to begin with, but when he
heard his name he quickly understood that we were friends come on a
visit, and no longer hesitated to approach us. He was fat and round,
and evidently pleased to see us again. The hermit had lived on the
lamentable remains of poor Sara, whom we had been obliged to kill here
in September. Sara’s lean and frozen body did not seem particularly
adapted for making anyone fat, and yet our newly-found friend Peary
looked as if he had been feasting for weeks. Possibly he had begun
by devouring Neptune, another of his companions, who had also given
the southern party the slip on the way to the depot in 80° S. However
this may be, Peary’s rest cure came to an abrupt conclusion. Stubberud
took him and put him in his team.

We had thought of reaching the depot before the close of the day,
and this we could easily have done if the good going had continued;
but during the afternoon the surface became so loose that the dogs
sank in up to their chests, and when — at about six in the evening —
the sledge-meter showed twenty-one geographical miles, the animals
were so done up that it was no use going on.

At eleven o’clock the next morning — Sunday, November 12 — we
reached the depot. Captain Amundsen had promised to leave a brief
report when the southern party left here, and the first thing we did
on arrival was, of course, to search for the document in the place
agreed upon. There were not many words on the little slip of paper,
but they gave us the welcome intelligence: “All well so far.”

We had expected that the southern party’s dogs would have finished
the greater part, if not the whole, of the seal meat that was laid
down here in April; but fortunately this was not the case. There was
a great quantity left, so that we could give our own dogs a hearty
feed with easy consciences. They had it, too, and it was no trifling
amount that they got through. The four days’ trot from Framheim had
been enough to produce an unusual appetite. There was a puppy in
Johansen’s team that was exposed for the first time in his life to
the fatigues of a sledge journey. This was a plucky little chap that
went by the name of Lillegut. The sudden change from short commons
to abundance was too much for his small stomach, and the poor puppy
lay shrieking in the snow most of the afternoon.

We also looked after ourselves that day, and had a good meal of fresh
seal meat; after that we supplied ourselves from the large stores that
lay here with the necessary provisions for a sledge journey of five
weeks: three cases of dogs’ pemmican, one case of men’s pemmican,
containing ninety rations, 20 pounds of dried milk, 55 pounds of
oatmeal biscuits, and three tins of malted milk, besides instruments,
Alpine rope, and clothing. The necessary quantity of chocolate had
been brought with us from Framheim, as there was none of this to
spare out in the field. Our stock of paraffin was 6 1/2 gallons,
divided between two tanks, one on each sledge. Our cooking outfit
was exactly the same as that used by the southern party.

The instruments we carried were a theodolite, a hypsometer, two
aneroids, one of which was no larger than an ordinary watch, two
thermometers, one chronometer watch, one ordinary watch, and one
photographic camera (Kodak 3 x 3 inches), adapted for using either
plates or films. We had three spools of film, and one dozen plates.

Our medical outfit was exceedingly simple. It consisted of nothing
but a box of laxative pills, three small rolls of gauze bandage, and
a small pair of scissors, which also did duty for beard-cutting. Both
pills and gauze were untouched when we returned; it may therefore be
safely said that our state of health during the journey was excellent.

While the drivers were packing and lashing their loads, which now
weighed nearly 600 pounds, I wrote a report to the Chief, and took an
azimuth observation to determine the direction of our course. According
to our instructions we should really have taken a north-easterly
course from here; but as our dogs seemed to be capable of more and
better work than we had expected, and as there was believed to be a
possibility that bare land was to be found due east of the spot where
we were, it was decided to make an attempt in that direction.

Our old enemy the fog had made its appearance in the course of the
night, and now hung, grey and disgusting, under the sky, when we
broke camp at the depot on the morning of November 13. However, it
was not so bad as to prevent our following the flags that marked the
depot on the east.

My duty as forerunner was immediately found to be considerably lighter
than before. With the greatly increased weight behind them the dogs had
all they could do to follow, if I went at an ordinary walking pace. At
11 a.m. we passed the easternmost flag, at five geographical miles from
the depot, and then we found ourselves on untrodden ground. A light
southerly breeze appeared very opportunely and swept away the fog;
the sun again shed its light over the Barrier, which lay before us,
shining and level, as we had been accustomed to see it. There was,
however, one difference: with every mile we covered there was the
possibility of seeing something new. The going was excellent, although
the surface was rather looser than one could have wished. The ski flew
over it finely, of course, while dogs’ feet and sledge-runners sank
in. I hope I shall never have to go here without ski; that would be
a terrible punishment; but with ski on one’s feet and in such weather
it was pure enjoyment.

Meanwhile the new sights we expected were slow in coming. We marched
for four days due east without seeing a sign of change in the ground;
there was the same undulating surface that we knew so well from
previous expeditions. The readings of the hypsometer gave practically
the same result day after day; the ascent we were looking for failed
to appear.

Stubberud, who for the first day or two after leaving the depot had
been constantly stretching himself on tiptoe and looking out for
mountain-tops, finally gave it as his heartfelt conviction that this
King Edward Land we were hunting for was only a confounded “Flyaway
Land,” which had nothing to do with reality. We others were not yet
quite prepared to share this view; for my own part, in any case, I was
loth to give up the theory that assumed a southward continuation of
King Edward Land along the 158th meridian; this theory had acquired
a certain force during the winter, and was mainly supported by the
fact that on the second depot journey we had seen, between the 81st
and 82nd parallels, some big pressure-ridges, which suggested the
presence of bare land in a south-easterly direction.

On November 16 we found ourselves at the 158th meridian, but on
every side the eye encountered the level, uninterrupted snow surface
and nothing else. Should we go on? It was tempting enough, as the
probability was that sooner or later we should come upon something;
but there was a point in our instructions that had to be followed, and
it said: Go to the point where land is marked on the chart. This point
was now about 120 geographical miles to the north of us. Therefore,
instead of going on to the east in uncertainty, we decided to turn to
the left and go north. The position of the spot where we altered our
course was determined, and it was marked by a snow beacon 7 feet high,
on the top of which was placed a tin box containing a brief report.

On that part of the way which we now had before us there was little
prospect of meeting with surprises; nor did any fall to our lot. In
day’s marches that varied from seventeen to twenty geographical miles,
we went forward over practically level ground. The nature of the
surface was at first ideal; but as we came farther north and thus
nearer to the sea, our progress was impeded by a great number of big
snow-waves (sastrugi), which had probably been formed during the long
period of bad weather that preceded our departure from Framheim. We
did not escape damage on this bad surface. Stubberud broke the forward
part of the spare ski he had lashed under his sledge, and Johansen’s
sledge also suffered from the continual bumping against the hard
sastrugi. Luckily he had been foreseeing enough to bring a little
hickory bar, which came in very handy as a splint for the broken part.

As we were now following the direction of the meridian, or in other
words, as our course was now true north, the daily observations of
latitude gave a direct check on the readings of the sledge-meter. As
a rule they agreed to the nearest minute. Whilst I was taking
the noon altitude my companions had the choice of standing by the
side of their sledges and eating their lunch, or setting the tent
and taking shelter. They generally chose the latter alternative,
making up for it by going an hour longer in the afternoon. Besides
the astronomical observations, the barometric pressure, temperature,
force and direction of the wind, and amount of cloud were noted three
times daily; every evening a hypsometer reading was taken.

If I were to undertake the description of a long series of days like
those that passed while we were travelling on the flat Barrier,
I am afraid the narrative would be strikingly reminiscent of the
celebrated song of a hundred and twenty verses, all with the same
rhyme. One day was very much like another. One would think that
this monotony would make the time long, but the direct opposite was
the case. I have never known time fly so rapidly as on these sledge
journeys, and seldom have I seen men more happy and contented with
their existence than we three, when after a successful day’s march
we could set about taking our simple meal, with a pipe of cut plug to
follow. The bill of fare was identically the same every day, perhaps
a fault in the eyes of many; variety of diet is supposed to be the
thing. Hang variety, say I; appetite is what matters. To a man who
is really hungry it is a very subordinate matter what he shall eat;
the main thing is to have something to satisfy his hunger.

After going north for seven days, we found that according to
observations and sledge-meter we ought to be in the neighbourhood of
the sea. This was correct. My diary for November 23 reads:

“To-day we were to see something besides sky and snow. An hour after
breaking camp this morning two snowy petrels came sailing over us;
a little while later a couple of skua gulls. We welcomed them as the
first living creatures we had seen since leaving winter-quarters. The
constantly increasing ‘water-sky’ to the north had long ago warned
us that we were approaching the sea; the presence of the birds told
us it was not far off. The skua gulls settled very near us, and the
dogs, no doubt taking them for baby seals, were of course ready to
break the line of march, and go off hunting, but their keenness soon
passed when they discovered that the game had wings.

“The edge of the Barrier was difficult to see, and, profiting by
previous experience of how easy it is to go down when the light is bad,
we felt our way forward step by step. At four o’clock we thought we
could see the precipice. A halt was made at a safe distance, and I
went in advance to look over. To my surprise I found that there was
open water right in to the wall of ice. We had expected the sea-ice
to extend a good way out still, seeing it was so early in summer; but
there lay the sea, almost free of ice as far as the horizon. Black
and threatening it was to look at, but still a beneficent contrast
to the everlasting snow surface on which we had now tramped for 300
geographical miles.

The perpendicular drop of 100 feet that forms the boundary between
the dead Barrier and the sea, with its varied swarm of life, is
truly an abrupt and imposing transition. The panorama from the top
of the ice-wall is always grand, and it can be beautiful as well. On
a sunny day, or still more on a moonlit night, it has a fairylike
beauty. To-day a heavy, black sky hung above a still blacker sea, and
the ice-wall, which shines in the light with a dazzling white purity,
looked more like an old white-washed wall than anything else. There
was not a breath of wind; the sound of the surf at the bottom of the
precipice now and then reached my ears — this was the only thing
that broke the vast silence. One’s own dear self becomes so miserably
small in these mighty surroundings; it was a sheer relief to get back
to the company of my comrades.”

As things now were, with open water up to the Barrier itself, our
prospect of getting seals here at the edge of the ice seemed a poor
one. Next morning, however, we found, a few miles farther east, a
bay about four miles long, and almost entirely enclosed. It was still
frozen over, and seals were lying on the ice by the dozen. Here was
food enough to give both ourselves and the dogs an extra feed and to
replenish our supplies. We camped and went off to examine the ground
more closely. There were plenty of crevasses, but a practicable descent
was found, and in a very short time three full-grown seals and a fat
young one were despatched. We hauled half a carcass up to the camp
with the Alpine rope. As we were hard at work dragging our spoil up
the steep slope, we heard Stubberud sing out, “Below, there!” —
and away he went like a stone in a well. He had gone through the
snow-bridge on which we were standing, but a lucky projection stopped
our friend from going very far down, besides which he had taken a
firm round turn with the rope round his wrist. It was, therefore,
a comparatively easy matter to get him up on the surface again. This
little intermezzo would probably have been avoided if we had not been
without our ski, but the slope was so steep and smooth that we could
not use them. After a few more hauls we had the seal up by the tent,
where a large quantity of it disappeared in a surprisingly short time
down the throats of fifteen hungry dogs.

The ice of the bay was furrowed by numerous leads, and while the
hunters were busy cutting up the seals, I tried to get a sounding,
but the thirty fathoms of Alpine rope I had were not enough; no
bottom was reached. After having something to eat we went down again,
in order if possible to find out the depth. This time we were better
supplied with sounding tackle two reels of thread, a marlinspike,
and our geological hammer.

First the marlinspike was sent down with the thread as a line. An
inquisitive lout of a seal did all it could to bite through the thread,
but whether this was too strong or its teeth too poor, we managed
after a lot of trouble to coax the marlinspike up again, and the
interfering rascal, who had to come up to the surface now and then
to take breath, got the spike of a ski-pole in his thick hide. This
unexpected treatment was evidently not at all to his liking, and
after acknowledging it by a roar of disgust, he vanished into the
depths. Now we got on better. The marlinspike sank and sank until
it had drawn with it 130 fathoms of thread. A very small piece of
seaweed clung to the thread as we hauled it in again; on the spike
there was nothing to be seen. As its weight was rather light for so
great a depth — a possible setting of current might have carried it
a little to one side — we decided to try once more with the hammer,
which was considerably heavier, in order to check the result. The
hammer, on the other hand, was so heavy, that with the delicate thread
as a line the probability of successfully carrying out the experiment
seemed small, but we had to risk it. The improvised sinker was well
smeared with blubber, and this time it sank so rapidly to the bottom
as to leave no doubt of the correctness of the sounding — 130 fathoms
again. By using extreme care we succeeded in getting the hammer up
again in safety, but no specimen of the bottom was clinging to it.

On the way back to camp we dragged with us the carcass of the young
seal. It was past three when we got into our sleeping-bags that night,
and, in consequence, we slept a good deal later than usual the next
morning. The forenoon was spent by Johansen and Stubberud in hauling
up another seal from the bay and packing as much flesh on the sledges
as possible. As fresh meat is a commodity that takes up a great deal
of space in proportion to its weight, the quantity we were able to
take with us was not large. The chief advantage we had gained was
that a considerable supply could be stored on the spot, and it might
be useful to fall back upon in case of delay or other mishaps.

I took the observation for longitude and latitude, found the height by
hypsometer, and took some photographs. After laying down the depot and
erecting beacons, we broke camp at 3 p.m. South of the head of the bay
there were a number of elevations and pressure masses, exactly like the
formations to be found about Framheim. To the east a prominent ridge
appeared, and with the glass it could be seen to extend inland in a
south-easterly direction. According to our observations this must be
the same that Captain Scott has marked with land-shading on his chart.

We made a wide detour outside the worst pressure-ridges, and then set
our course east-north-east towards the ridge just mentioned. It was a
pretty steep rise, which was not at all a good thing for the dogs. They
had overeaten themselves shockingly, and most of the seal’s flesh
came up again. So that their feast should not be altogether wasted,
we stopped as soon as we had come far enough up the ridge to be able
to regard the surface as comparatively safe; for in the depression
round the bay it was somewhat doubtful.

On the following morning — Sunday, November 26 — there was a gale
from the north-east with sky and Barrier l