South with the Sun: Roald Amundsen, His Polar Explorations, and the Quest for Discovery
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Roald Amundsen, “the last of the Vikings,” left his mark on the Heroic Era as one of the most successful polar explorers ever.
A powerfully built man more than six feet tall, Amundsen’s career of adventure began at the age of fifteen (he was born in Norway in 1872 to a family of merchant sea captains and rich ship owners); twenty-five years later he was the first man to reach both the North and South Poles.
Lynne Cox, adventurer and swimmer, author of Swimming to Antarctica (“gripping” —Sports Illustrated) and Grayson (“wondrous, and unforgettable” —Carl Hiaasen), gives us in South with the Sun a full-scale account of the explorer’s life and expeditions.
We see Amundsen, in 1903-06, the first to travel the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in his small ship Gjøa, a seventy-foot refitted former herring boat powered by sails and a thirteen-horsepower engine, making his way through the entire length of the treacherous ice bound route, between the northern Canadian mainland and Canada’s Arctic islands, from Greenland across Baffin Bay, between the Canadian islands, across the top of Alaska into the Bering Strait. The dangerous journey took three years to complete, as Amundsen, his crew, and six sled dogs waited while the frozen sea around them thawed sufficiently to allow for navigation.
We see him journey toward the North Pole in Fridtjof Nansen’s famous Fram, until word reached his expedition party of Robert Peary’s successful arrival at the North Pole. Amundsen then set out on a secret expedition to the Antarctic, and we follow him through his heroic capture of the South Pole.
Cox makes clear why Amundsen succeeded in his quests where other adventurer-explorers failed, and how his methodical preparation and willingness to take calculated risks revealed both the spirit of the man and the way to complete one triumphant journey after another.
Crucial to Amundsen’s success in reaching the South Pole was his use of carefully selected sled dogs. Amundsen’s canine crew members—he called them “our children”—had been superbly equipped by centuries of natural selection for survival in the Arctic. “The dogs,” he wrote, “are the most important thing for us. The whole outcome of the expedition depends on them.” On December 14, 1911, Roald Amundsen and four others, 102 days and more than 1,880 miles later, stood at the South Pole, a full month before Robert Scott.
Lynne Cox describes reading about Amundsen as a young girl and how because of his exploits was inspired to follow her dreams. We see how she unwittingly set out in Amundsen’s path, swimming in open waters off Antarctica, then Greenland (always without a wetsuit), first as a challenge to her own abilities and then later as a way to understand Amundsen’s life and the lessons learned from his vision, imagination, and daring.
South with the Sun—inspiring, wondrous, and true—is a bold adventure story of bold ambitious dreams.
though, we needed to check on entry and exit points for the swim. We walked out of the hotel into a light snow shower and followed the main dirt road that climbed into town. Dogs with long thick coats were staked in tiers along the steep rocky hillsides. When, at one point, a puppy bounded down to greet us, the adult dogs broke into loud, anxious barks and high-pitched howls. Karen warned us not to play with the puppy. These were working dogs, Konrad explained, not pets or companions. They were
them asunder and slip through … a wild shout of triumph broke forth when the vessel slipped through. Amundsen had reached the Chukchi Sea. I followed him west. Today, about forty-five hundred people live in Barrow, Alaska, which is 330 miles north of the Arctic Circle. More than 60 percent of Barrow’s population is Inupiat, and the surrounding villagers are almost all Inupiat. Traditionally, many of the Inupiat hunted bowhead whale and fished in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. The Inupiat still
taken enough food and equipment for thirty days, and they had forty-two dogs that would take them up to the polar plateau. And they would methodically slaughter the dogs until they had twelve that would take two sledges back to Framheim. On November 17 they began their climb through the mountains. They saw the southern Mount Nansen and Mount Don Pedro Christophersen, and they used an aneroid to measure the height of a snow terrace. They had reached four thousand feet, and they continued to the
destination. There is so much more to flying in Antarctica. Ron told me it is as much art as it is a science. More than anything, I wanted to see how the aircrews flew and the art and science of Antarctic flight. I contacted the 109th Air Wing in Schenectady, New York, and requested a visit so I could do background research to gain a better understanding of how they achieved their mission in Antarctica. Before I spoke with them I needed to be prepared. That was one of the reasons for my
that still hadn’t been explored. That day was when I seriously began to think about writing a book about Amundsen and Nansen. Anyone who does anything of significance faces obstacles. What would Amundsen or Nansen have done? They went to the king of Norway. I wished President Reagan were still in office. He had invited me to meet him in the Oval Office after my Bering Strait swim. We spoke about swimming. He’d been a lifeguard in Illinois, and he had rescued more than twenty people. He also