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Vegard Ulvang makes it to the South Pole
Vegard Ulvang, Jan-Gunnar Winther, Stein P. Aasheim and Harald Dag Jølle started their expedition to the South Pole on 14th October 2011. The expedition is one of the projects within the Nansen-Amundsen Year 2011, and is an official celebration of the 100 years' anniversary since Amundsen was the first man to reach the South Pole in 1911. Although he retired from exploration after his return to Norway, his techniques of polar travel and his innovations in equipment and clothing influenced a generation of subsequent Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. This year also marks 150 years since Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate was born. Wednesday at 11:30, Vegard Ulvang and Harald Dag Jølle completed their expedition, reaching the South Pole on skis.
The expedition could not be started before the 1st November, as the weather did not allow the group to be flown into the Bay of Whales. Having been behind Amundsen the whole way, as the four men wanted to ski the exact same route, several challenges arose, but the team also learned to appreciate small things that made the trip easier. Walking 1311 km on skis can challenge your motivation. On November 5th, they wrote in their diary: "We encourage ourselves out here on the ice by taking note of every new milestone. Today we had several reasons for celebration. We have passed 80 degrees south latitude. We have put 100 km behind us. When we set out five days ago, we had over 1300 km to the Pole. Now we are down to 1100 and some. We have reached Amundsen's first depot. And last but not least, we are catching up with Amundsen! Today we narrowed his lead by 23 km".
To ensure two of the four explorers made it on time to the South Pole for the official celebration, they chose to be flown in two days earlier. The rest of the expedition still had 80 kilometers to go. Vegard Ulvang and Harald Dag Jølle decided to continue on skis, using their very last bit of energy and power left, and finish the route as planned. "We'll stop complaining about the snow conditions, but it's possible that skiing 50 km is far easier in other parts of the world. Here it took us nearly 24 hours. In other words, we have turned our normal rhythm upside down and are doing everything in our power to reach the South Pole by the 14th. We have two days and 80 kilometers to go. It ought to be doable".
All four members of the expedition are now gathered at the South Pole, to the day 100 years after Roald Amundsen's great achievement. Vegard Ulvang and Harald Dag Jølle completed the entire expedition on skis and reached the Pole at 11.30 am Norwegian time (11.30 pm New Zealand time, which is the local South Pole time). Relieved and exhausted. At present they are taking a well-deserved nap and resting during the night at the South Pole.
100 years ago on this day, Amundsen wrote in his diary: "So we arrived, and were able to raise our flag at the geographical South Pole - King Håkon VII's Vidda. Thank God! We have had our celebratory meal - a little piece of seal meat each".
Contributed by Sofie Torlei Olsen
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