Sailing towards land!

Yesterday we sighted land. That was South Victoria Land, in the southwest. Today we spotted more land. Tall mountains towering over the Ross Ice Shelf. This was new territory in 1911. No-one had ever seen these mountains before. Amundsen and his men had no idea what awaited them.
Three men with ski sails on the Ross ice shelf.Full speed towards land! Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

When it became known that Amundsen had taken up the race to the South Pole, many believed he would cut across the Ross Ice Shelf, below South Victoria Land, and ascend to the plateau by way of the Beardmore Glacier, taking the route Shackleton had discovered in 1908-9. But Amundsen insisted that this had never been his plan. Scott had declared that he would follow this route: “There is no question but that Scott’s route was reserved for him.” Amundsen’s route led due south. They would follow the compass and not veer aside. “The terrain must be very difficult indeed, if it is to prevent us from climbing up onto the plateau.”

Now we ourselves are looking at this terrain, the mountains that bear the names of Amundsen’s benefactors Fridtjof Nansen and Don Pedro Christoffersen. We delight in this spectacle; we rejoice that the weather reports promise favourable winds. Today we sailed 54 kilometres.

Position: S 83 33.392, W 163 52.929
Temperature: -18°C
Wind: 2-5 m/s from the southeast Distance traversed: 54 km
Distance behind Amundsen: 194 km