“Adventure is just bad planning!”
Captain Roald Amundsen did not fool around, but based his conquest of the South Pole on defining an elegant and simple plan – and sticking with it.
On December 14. 1911, the efforts were rewarded, when Amundsen and his four companions planted the Norwegian flag on the Pole, five weeks before the ill-fated British expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott.
In The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian expedition in the Fram, 1910–12 (Volumes I and II) he tells the whole story. The book is written in a dry, understated humoristic tone and clinically cleansed from any kind of self-praise. This makes for a very satisfying read.
Originally, everyone – even Amundsens crew! – believed that they were going for the North Pole. But as the rival Americans Cook and Peary each claimed to have reached the North Pole in 1909, Amundsen set his sights on the South Pole instead. He kept his plans secret, though, and when his intentions were revealed, it caused international outrage. But Amundsen was on his way and did not care the slightest bit.
The Norwegian expedition used the same ship, The Fram, as Fridtjof Nansen in his attempt to reach the North Pole more than a decade earlier, and Nansen himself wrote the introduction to this extraordinary book:
“When the explorer comes home victorious, everyone goes out to cheer him. We are all proud of his achievement—proud on behalf of the nation and of humanity. We think it is a new feather in our cap, and one we have come by cheaply. How many of those who join in the cheering were there when the expedition was fitting out, when it was short of bare necessities, when support and assistance were most urgently wanted? Was there then any race to be first? At such a time the leader has usually found himself almost alone; too often he has had to confess that his greatest difficulties were those he had to overcome at home before he could set sail. So it was with Columbus, and so it has been with many since his time. So it was, too, with Roald Amundsen.”
Download the entire The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian expedition in the Fram, 1910–12 Vol I + II (986 pages / 55 MB) here: