Centenary South Pole expedition nears its target
Dec 13, 2011, 11:28 GMT
Oslo - Two Norwegians were on the final stretch to the South Pole on Tuesday, in an attempt to replicate explorer Roald Amundsen's feat 100 years ago, when his expedition was the first there, winning an epic race against Britain's Robert F Scott.
Wednesday is the centenary of Amundsen's arrival at the South Pole.
When it became clear that this year's team would not reach the South Pole in time for planned celebrations, two of its four members - adventurer Stein P Aasheim and Norwegian Polar Institute chief Jan-Gunnar Winther - were flown there Tuesday.
'We did what we could to make it in time to the Pole for the centenary celebration,' Winther wrote on the expedition website.
'Tonight, after several days with just a couple of hours' rest, we realised that it was not possible. In theory it could work, but not physically.'
The two remaining team members - former Olympic cross country ski champion Vegard Ulvang and polar historian Harald Dag Jolle - were estimated to be 80 kilometres from the South Pole.
The conditions have been challenging. In a recent entry, the expedition said the snow was like 'fish glue,' quoting Amundsen, and adding it was 'almost like skiing through sand.'
The team had planned to set off on October 19, the same day as Amundsen and his expedition did back in 1911. But bad weather delayed their start and they had to wait 12 days for conditions to improve. In an attempt to make up for lost time they skied long hours with short stops for rest and food.
The centenary expedition members have logged their trek on a website, stating, 'even if the terrain we cross is known, and our equipment is state-of-the-art, it is still a long, cold, windy journey.'
Unlike the pioneering expedition 100 years ago, this year's team is not using sledge dogs, as the practice has been outlawed.
In 1911, Scott and his team reached the South Pole a month after Amundsen, but did not survive the return journey.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg visited the South Pole, where Norwegian television showed him skiing in bright sunshine, but freezing conditions.
Stoltenberg visited some research centres near the South Pole, where projects range from astronomy to the climate.
In a Twitter posting, Stoltenberg said he was 'impressed by the research that is being done here. Important for the world. Pioneers of today, as Amundsen was in his time.'
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