4 days to climb the Axel Heiberg glacier

Published on 28.11.2011 - South Pole 1911-2011 NPI

The team sent by the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) to retrace Amundsen's route has finished climbing the Axel Heiberg glacier ; the needed five days to reach the Antarctic plateau.

While the group of four (Vegard Ulvang, the skier, Jan-Gunnar Winther, the researcher, Stein P. Aasheim, the adventurer and Harald Dag Jolle, the historian) was ascending the Axel Heiberg glacier, they were quite impressed with the way Amundsen and his men have chosen at that time the right route to go up to the plateau.

Excerpts (26 November) : " ... How did the five men who were here in 1911 gain an understanding of the landscape so quickly? How did they know which path to choose? Where we are supposed to make our ascent, it looks as though the onward road ends abruptly in a vertical wall of rock. Were they just lucky? Was it determination and fearlessness? These are our thoughts as our skis carry us within sight of one sheer ice wall after the other, and tall mountains are succeeded by even taller mountains. Regardless of how the feat was accomplished, we feel deep respect for the way they managed to move all those dogs and people and all that gear southward and upward with such impressive speed. ..."

Their ascent took five days : on 24 November, they had reached the altitude of 700m, the next day, they climbed only 300 m, on 26 November, they were already at an altitude of 1845 m and on 27 November they were on the plateau measuring an altitude of 2600 m.

They are now leaving that part of the expedition. Although they are still 86 km behind Amundsen's schedule (their position on 27 November, 85° 25.515 S / 168° 05.464 W), they still think that they are able to do it for the historical date of 14 December. They have 523 km to go for only 17 days left. These datas give 30.7 km a day and no rest whatsoever ; not impossible after all...


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