Under Amundsen’s shadow…

Published on 08.11.2011 - South Pole 1911-2011 NPI

In Memoriam Rolf Bae...

In Memoriam Rolf Bae...

© Norwegian Polar Institute

Every day, the big Amundsen is in a way behind the scene of this adventure.

Since the day 1 of their expedition, the members of this Norwegian Polar Institute Centenary Expedition are constantly refering to the famous odyssey of their hero.

First they want to arrive at the Pole the same day, 14 december. Second, they compare every day both progression although they have not departed the sale date (Amundsen departed 13 days before them). Third, they try to speed up using their ski-sails to catch their delay but that's not part of the game because, no need to say, Amundsen had no sails, etc.

Nevertheless this adventure is quite interesting because, for those who have not read Amundsen book, they are able to enter his world of polar adventure unfolding hundred years ago. We learn for instance, that after having left a depot at 82 degrees, Amundsen decided that from then on he wanted to cover 37 km par day, because by doing so his team would need only three days to cover one degree of latitude. Following regularly the polar adventures of today, we can realize that tint the depths hings have not much changed because covering such a distance in the Antarctic is still a challenge nowadays!

Excerpts : "...How do you select the team for a centenary expedition to the South Pole? This project began with a phone call from Rolf Bae to Stein in the winter of 2008.

Rolf: “Shall we follow Amundsen’s route to the South Pole in 2011? Nobody has done that yet.”

Stein: “Yes!”.

“The Centenary Expedition 1911-2011” is Rolf’s doing. Without that first phone call none of us would be here today.
And then Stein called Vegard.

Stein: “Want to come along with Rolf and me to the South Pole in 2011?”

Vegard: “Yes!”

Rolf had many irons in the fire in 2008. First he participated in the repeat ascent along “the Norwegian route” of Great Trango Tower in Pakistan. He was back in Norway only briefly before leaving for K2. He called from base camp on K2 to discuss our plans for the South Pole. The three of us were going to get together when Rolf came home. But he never came home.

Rolf Bae was the primus motor, the driving force behind the project and the team fell apart in shock after the accident on K2. Nothing more happened until Vegard became acquainted with Jan-Gunnar.

Vegard: “Maybe you’d like to come along with Stein and me to the South Pole.”

Jan-Gunnar: “Yes!”

And so the ball was rolling again. Stein placed a call to Harald Dag.

Stein: “Would you like to come along to the South Pole?”

Harald Dag: “I’ll ask Sigrun.” (Brief silence.) “Yes!”

07 November : the team has covered 185 km so far. And (because of a late start) they are still 236 km behind Amundsen's progression. Their position : S 80 33.416 / W 166 12.932

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