Echoes of Amundsen as Norwegian races to Pole

Eighty-one years after Captain Roald Amundsen planted the Norwegian flag at the South Pole, a tired but fit Oslo lawyer yesterday became the first man to reach the Pole alone on foot without air or land support.

Erling Kagge, 29, skied into the US Amundsen-Scott station Pole at 5.30am GMT after an almost incident-free 52- day journey across the ice-cap.

In a cheap and single-minded piece of exploration reminiscent of Amundsen's 1911 journey, Mr Kagge hauled his supplies 1,310 kilometres (814 miles) through often glutinous snow and into strong headwinds and temperatures as low as -25C. But in an echo of the race for the Pole between Amundsen and Captain Robert Scott of the Royal Navy, a British expedition was yesterday behind schedule after a very difficult crossing. According to a radio message received at Punta Arenas in Chile on Wednesday, Sir Ranulf Fiennes and Dr Michael Stroud were still at 88 degrees, 18 minutes south, or at least 100 nautical miles short of the Pole.

There is speculation that the British team might be forced to abandon their plan to cross the Antarctic continent unsupported (without pre-positioned supplies or air drops). But David Harrison, a spokesman, said in London: 'It's been a tough route so far but they're going ahead. That's what they said consistently.' The message received on Wednesday also said: 'All okay.'

Mr Kagge, who works for Norway's largest industrial company, Norsk Hydro, set off from Berkner Island on the Weddell Sea on 17 November after a delay of about 10 days because of bad weather. He made good time and on 11 days skied more than 30 kilometres (18.6 miles), man-hauling about 264lb (120kg) of supplies on a sled.

He consumed 8lb (3.6kg) of raw bacon and drank neat olive oil to try to preserve fat. When training in Punta Arenas, he devoured four or five puddings at dinner.

In contrast, Sir Ranulf, 48, and Dr Stroud, 37, set off across the neighbouring Filchner ice shelf, fissured with nightmarish crevasses which held up their heavy sleds carrying at least 460lb (208kg) of provisions each for the full 1,650-mile journey to their destination on the Ross Sea. They are believed to have lost at least 20lb (9kg) in weight.

The British team has taken out insurance to cover any rescue, which could run to dollars 250,000 ( pounds 162,000), according to Adventure Network International, the Punta Arenas outfitter which took both expeditions to their starting points.

In 1990, Mr Kagge reached the North Pole unsupported while the Fiennes- Stroud team were obliged to turn back. Mr Kagge has a reputation in polar circles for brattishness, which is denied by his Norwegian friends.

The British camp has repeatedly denied that there was a race on because Sir Ranulf and Dr Stroud are skiing twice the distance and hauling twice the weight each.

Captain Scott also refused to race after he received a message in Melbourne, Australia, in 1911, that Amundsen was heading for the Antarctic. Using dog sleds and skis, the lightly equipped Norwegian party reached the geographic South Pole on 14 December.

Scott's team arrived on 17 January 1912, having man-hauled heavy sleds from the base of the Beardmore glacier. Their return was an epic tale of gallantry, bad weather, frostbite, scurvy and hunger. All died.

Yesterday's news was greeted with elation in Norway, where memories of Amundsen, who died in an aircraft accident in Antarctica in 1928, are kept bright.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas