Published December 14th, 2011
Bravo, Amundsen! “And at last we reached our destination,” wrote Roald Amundsen 100 years ago on December 14, 1911 at the South Pole. The Prime Minister of Norway is already at the Pole, the King of Norway will unveil a new national monument, and “Framheim, A Village Under the Ice,” a reconstruction of Amundsen’s long-lost winter quarters, opens Wednesday at the Fram Museum. Naturally, the day-long festivities took place outside.
With a bit more bravado, Olav Bjaaland, who took the photo above, wrote “So now we have reached the goal of our longings, and the fantastic thing is that we are the first ones here.” The whole Norwegian polar party from 1911 — Amundsen, Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Oscar Wisting, and Sverre Hassel — is depicted in the monument at Bygdøynes outside the Fram Museum.
And, yet, it’s two Brits — Kari Herbert, daughter of polar explorer Sir Wally Herbert, and husband Huw Lewis-Jones — who created In Search of the South Pole: the best, most balanced, authoritative and just plain excellent book on polar exploration that we’ve seen in years (and we’ve seen many). Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton, Byrd and modern explorers all get their due in essays by an international who’s who of explorers, historians, scientists and polar experts. It’s a scrapbook of Antarctic exploration, featuring a timeline, dozens of color reproductions of period posters and other arcana, and excerpts from logbooks and journals.