Polar heroes

S/Y Jennifer in Svalbard – Polar heroes.
During the Heroic Age of Polar Explorations one meets some of the most famous names in world history, almost all born in the second half of 1800’ ; the Swedes Nordenskjöld (1832-1901) and Andrée (1854-97), the Norwegians Nansen (1861-1930) and Amundsen (1872-1928) and the English Shackleton (1874-1922) and Scott (1868-1912). Most of them were courageous, skilled, great men, a few stubborn failures and big egos. The one who stands out is Nansen, he was not only explorer, but a scientist, professor, politician (was against the union with Sweden), diplomat and received Nobel’s peace price 1922. During 1895-96 he tried to reach the North Pole with his vessel Fram. The idea was to drift there with the ice. It didn’t succeed but he was then the person who had reached closest to the pole. Also Amundsen was outstanding. He was the first man through the Northwest Passage 1905, the first to reach the South Pole 1911 and the first to the North Pole 1926, although by air balloon. But he was extremely vain; had problem sharing the glory of success with the Italian Nobile when they together reach the North Pole 1926, and his reputation fell. He perished 1928 during a rescue attempt by plane of his rival Nobile, whom he detested. Shackleton is the ultimate hero. When attempting to reach the South Pole 1914-1916, his vessel Endurance got stuck in the ice and crushed. The crew managed to get to a small island, Elephant Island, where they survived on seals and birds. Shackleton and a few men left in a very small boat and managed, during extreme circumstances, to reach South Georgia 700 NM further away. He then returned by ship and rescued the rest of his crew. He died in a later expedition. Nordenskjöld, who was also a professor and politician, become the first man to traverse the Northeast Passage 1887. His vessel Vega got frozen in the ice for nine months before he could cross Bering’s strait.
The two failures were Scott and Andrée. None of them had, like Nansen and Amundsen, learnt from the Inuit’s how to use dogs and skies. Scott was arrogant, did not use dogs – not for gentlemen – but used horses instead and they perished (he used a few dogs). Scott did reach the South Pole, but Amundsen had already been there five weeks before and on the return trip they perished. Andrée was incompetent and totally unprepared for arctic conditions. He was also devious, he knew that his air balloon leaked but secretly refilled it during tests without telling the others. So, he risked his own and his two companions life for his vanity. After the start 1897 the balloon, Örnen (the Eagle), stranded on the ice and they had to endure months of terrible sufferings traversing the ice. At the end they reached the small island of Vitön, northeast of Svalbard, where they perished. This was the story of some “our” polar explorers.
Andrée Amundsen Scott Shackleton

Georg von Rosen: Upptäcktsresanden A. E. Nordenskiöld. NM 1396
Georg von Rosen: Upptäcktsresanden A. E. Nordenskiöld.
NM 1396


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