The South Pole
The South Pole
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 fo