Amundsen's depots

On 11 April 1911 the last dogsled came to a halt at Framheim. For two months, Amundsen’s men had been moving provisions – seal meat, dog pemmican, biscuits, butter, chocolate, petroleum and a selection of gear – 3000 kilos in all. They had reached 82 degrees south and had also established depots at 80 and 81 degrees south. According to Amundsen, “The foundation was well laid.” Now they would spend the winter preparing the expedition in minute detail.
Three skiers having lunch at the Ross ice shelf.Lunch in the sunshine. We have had twelve days of cloudless skies! Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute Amundsen’s expedition is a marvel of advance planning. They needed enough food and fuel to get to 90 degrees south and back again. For each degree of latitude they travelled south, they established a new depot. The main depot was placed at 85 degrees. There they loaded their sleds with provisions enough to last 60 days. The dogs also counted as part of their “provisions”.

Each depot was clearly marked with tall bamboo poles with flags at the top. Twenty poles – each 900 metres from its neighbour – would ensure that the depot could not be missed. In addition, the team built a cairn every 9 kilometres: everything to facilitate navigation on the way home.

Today we passed 82 degrees. From this point on, it was all new territory for Amundsen’s expedition in November 1911: “Now the unknown lies before us – now the journey has begun in earnest.”

Forty-eight kilometres ahead of us, our own depot awaits; it was placed there when we were flown to the Bay of Whales. How good it will be to have a day’s rest and enjoy some of the luxuries stashed there!
Position: S 82 04.988, W 166 30.585
Temperature: -20 °C
Wind: 2 m/s from the south
Distance covered: 34 km
Distance behind Amundsen: 216 km