December 8, 1911: Amundsen Breaks a Record

From his account “To the South Pole”:

“We had a great piece of work before us that day–nothing less than carrying our flag farther south than the foot of man had trod.  We had our silk flag ready; it was made fast to two ski-sticks and laid on Hanssen’s sledge.  I had given him orders that as soon as we had covered the distance to 88 degrees S., which was Shackleton’s farthest south, the flag was to be hoisted on his sledge.  It was my turn as foreruner, and I pushed on. . . .I had long ago fallen into a reverie–far removed from the scene in which I was moving. . . . I was so preoccupied that I had entirely forgotten my surroundings.  Then suddenly I was roused from my dreaming by a jubilant shout. . . .

“I find it impossible to express the feelings that possessed me at this moment.  All the sledges had stopped, and from the foremost of them the Norwegian flag was flying.  It shook itself out, waved and flapped so that the silk rustled.  It looked wonderfully well in the pure clean air and the shining white surroundings.  88 degrees 23′ was past; we were farther south than any human being had been.

“No other moment of the whole trip affected me like this.  The tears forced their way into my eyes; by no effort of will could I keep them back.  It was the flag yonder that conquered me and my will.”


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