Norwegians flock to the South Pole

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As the 100th anniversary approaches of Roald Amundsen’s first successful expedition to the South Pole, Norwegian officials and adventurers are already trying to follow in Amundsen’s footsteps.

Many Norwegians are following in Roald Amundsen's footsteps and heading for the South Pole. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

Some will be flying in to the spot where Amundsen raised the Norwegian flag on December 14, 1911, others will be trekking in the hard way. As newspaper Aftenposten commented this week, it may be a bit crowded at the pole on December 14 this year.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg will fly in for an anniversary celebration. Others will arrive by ski and sleds including a team led by the head of the Norwegian Polar Institute with the appropriate name of Jan-Gunnar Winther.

Winther’s crew was departing this week to join the experienced polar expert who earlier has led expeditions in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Among them are Olympic skier Vegard Ulvang, author and adventurer Stein P Aasheim and historian Harald Dag Jølle.

The four men have been preparing for the South Pole trek for the past two years. It will combine skiing, science and research along with production of a blogg, a documentary for Norway’s national commercial television station TV2 and a book on the expedition.

Also trekking to the South Pole are Oslo doctor Asle T Johansen, originally from the northern city of Alta. He completed a 100th anniversary expedition of explorer Fridtjof Nansen’s trek over Greenland on skis in 1988 and now intends to do the same in honour of Amundsen.

Johansen, along with Jan Morten Ertsaas from Svalbard, intends to make the South Pole trek in 60 days, using Amundsen’s original route with the same type of sleds and equipment used in 1911. It’s meant to be a “cultural historic” expedition.

“Amundsen put Norway on the world map,” Johansen told newspaper Aftenposten. “We’re hailing him with our cultural historic ski trip.”

Another Norwegian already set off on an expedition to the South Pole earlier this year, but it was not successful. Jarle Andhøy now wants to make a TV documentary of the expedition, in which his vessel Berserk was lost at sea and three of his crew members were killed.

Andhøy has been accused of being irresponsible on the expedition, which was also criticized by New Zealand authorities who organized expensive search and rescue missions. Norwegian police have been investigating and now Andhøy wants to tell the story of those missing, but the mothers of two of them want to halt Andhøy’s TV project.

“The expedition wasn’t an adventure, it was a tragedy and a death trip,” Signhild Elvedal Nerhus told newspaper VG. “I don’t want my son’s death to be entertainment on TV.” Andhøy declined comment, reported news bureau NTB.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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