The Butcher

“In four days we have reached the plateau from the coast,” wrote Amundsen proudly in his diary. He gave full credit to the dogs. “Come and say that dogs cannot be used here.” It had been hard work. But now the dogs were to have their reward, Amundsen wrote, “the best of rewards – death”.
Two skiers on the South Pole plateauIt was chilly on the plateau today. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

We are very near “The Butcher”, the place where Amundsen did away with all the dogs he no longer had use for. Or more accurately: no longer had food for. As Bjaaland wrote, they “slaughtered 23 doggies and took out the innards”. They would now continue with 18 dogs and three sleds. The butchered dogs provided food for both man and beast. Amundsen ate five dog cutlets “and looked in vain for more in the pot.”

It was not a warm welcome we received when we arrived on the plateau today. Strong catabatic winds and 30 degrees below zero. We also encountered the infamous sastrugi: just as Amundsen noted, the plateau was “criss-crossed by rock-hard, knife-sharp snowdrifts”.

But despite the wind-chill factor, we arrived at the second of our two depots, flown out in connection with an expedition that starts from the Axel Heiberg Glacier. Now we have all gathered in the big tent to enjoy some tasty desserts.

Position: S 85 39.473, W 169 36.203
Temperature: -30°C
Wind: 12-14 m/s from the southeast
Elevation: 2800 metres
Distance traversed: 19 km
Distance behind Amundsen: 79 km
Total distance traversed: 812 km
Distance remaining to the South Pole: 499 km