Amundsons South Pole Expedition

Amundsen returned from the Gjøa expedition as a hero and his next goal was clear: his main ambition had always been to be the first at the North Pole. This he planned to do by repeating Fridtjof Nansen’s drift with the From across the Arctic Ocean, but further north so that the Pole could be reached. Nansen approved the plans as long as the scientific aspects, particularly oceanography, were given primary consideration. With support from, amongst others, King Haakon and Queen Maud, Amundsen was well into preparations when the news in spring 1909 that both Frederick A. Cook and Robert E. Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole devastated him. He decided that it was necessary to claim another large goal – the South Pole – before going north to drift with the Fram. He continued preparations as though the original plans remained, including a test voyage around Great Britain to practice the oceanographic survey work.
The journey to Antarctica
The planned drift over the Arctic Ocean was to start by the Fram being sailed round South America and through the Bearing Strait. It was therefore no surprise that the expedition set sail southwards in August 1910. The five-month voyage south was used for intense preparations for phe sledging trip to the Pole, making and modifying equipment and getting used to the dogs. The men’ diaries have a lot to say about the dogs and the amusement and companionship they provided. Passing the Equator was marked with appropriate festivity: Ltn Gjertsen was a great success as a beautiful lady in a ballerina dress, while Captain Nilsen appeared as a Negro comedian with blackened face. The long voyage also included Christmas celebrations with each man receiving several packages that had been provided by friends and well-wishers back home.
The round shape of the Fram resulted at times in violent rollingthat sent men, equipment and dogs crashing into the bulkheads and each other. A couple of dogs were also lost overboard, but the number had still increased to 116 by the time the Fram arrived in Antarctica. The 16000 nm. journey south passed without particular problems and the Bay of Whales was reached on 14 January 1911. The pack ice delayed them for only one week, in contrast to almost the month it took Scott’s Terra Nova a little further west.

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