December 14, 1911: Amundsen at the South Pole

From his account “To the South Pole”–

“On the morning of December 14 the weather was of the finest, just as if it had been made for arriving at the Pole. . . .At three in the afternoon a simultaneous “Halt!” rang out from the drivers.  They had carefully examined their sledge-meters and they all showed the full distance–our Pole by reckoning.  The goal was reached, the journey ended. . . .

“We now reckoned that we were at the Pole. . . .After we had halted we collected and congratualated each other.  We had good grounds for mutual respect in what had been achieved, and I think that was just the feeling that was expressed in the firm and powerful grasps of the fist that were exchanged.  After this we proceeded to the greatest and most solemn act of the whole journey–the planting of our flag.

“Pride and affection shone in the five pairs of eyes that gazed upon the flag, as it unfurled itself with a sharp crack, and waved over the Pole.  I had determined that the act of planting it–the historic event–should be equally divided among us all.  It was not for one man to do this; it was for all who had staked their lives in the struggle, and held together through thick and thin. . . .

“Five weather-beaten, frost-bitten fists they were that grasped the pole, raise the waving flag in the air, and planted it as the first at the geographical South Pole.  ‘Thus we plant thee, beloved flag, at the South Pole, and give to the plain on which it lies the name of King Haakon VII’s Plateau.'”


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