Sunday, April 16, 2017

Farthest north .... for a brief moment ....

One hundred twenty-two years ago at this very moment, a wooden ship which had been deliberately frozen into the polar ice cap was adrift within it and captive to it. Each man aboard among the all-Norwegian crew was harboring the hope -- the dream -- of drifting over the North Pole and, by that means, being the first to reach it. The name of the ship was, "Fram," which in the Norwegian language means "forward." It had been designed and constructed for this specific purpose.
 
The leader of the expedition, Fridtjof Nansen, and a companion, Hjalmar Johansen, had left the vessel earlier and were on the ice retreating for Franz Josef Land after an unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole by sledges and skis. On April 7 in the year 1895, they had reached a point farther north than anyone before them. It was at that location Nansen decided if he and Johansen did not turn around then and there, death on the ice cap would undoubtedly overtake them. Farthest north, for a moment -- then, the moment is gone and the trek is over and the dream is forever vanished ....
As it was, Nansen and Johansen did spend eight months living in a stone/moss/ice hut at Cape Felder on the western edge of Franz Josef Land, living off polar bear/seal/walrus meat obtained by hunting. Their journey had begun in 1893 and did not conclude until 1896. Nansen, incidentally, had been the first to cross the Greenland ice cap on skis. This dash toward the North Pole venture was his last on the ice. He became a professor of oceanography, and he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for his work with refugees. Johansen went on to explore Antarctic regions, but his luck was bad and his taste for liquor was unquenchable. He committed suicide at age forty-five.
When I was a boy, I idolized Nansen and had dreams of leading a similar life. This took me to books and to hunting and to winter camping on frozen Minnesota lakes in the midst of blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. I named my first canoe Fram, but cruising among January "ice bergs" on Lake Superior was the extent of its "far north" exploits. Hmmmm .... I wonder who the boys of today idolize and what dreams they might have ....
This has been sort of a post .... the photograph, incidentally, was taken of the ice-bound Fram by one of the crew in 1896. The ship and the crew did make it safely back to Norway, and the vessel later spent four years in the Canadian arctic and went on a south polar expedition. It is now on display in the Fram Museum near Oslo.
I will be back sooner or later .... probably later ....


10 comments:

ANITA said...

Goodmorning Fram.Or shall i say early afternoon .Very nice post this time.Good to read.You should go up north sometime.It was ahard life for those people living there ..Best book ever I have read is men under the north light(True stories) by Mikkjel Fønhus.Wow.Men captured in the ice up there.No onecomes to rescue.Can you imagine the feeling.No seals.No Icebears nothing to eat.Thers nothing up there in 50 minus.Some of them cooked some raindeer skin and ate it for weeks.Many died.

Planning a trip to Svalbard .

See you and stay healthy.

Anita

Fram Actual said...

It was a hard and a dangerous life for those who dared challenge the far north or the distant south one hundred or more years ago, Anita. Today, a person would have to be extremely unfortunate to venture in those directions and suffer tragic consequences.

The Polar Regions lose their allure when, if weather and ice conditions are right, it is possible to fly over the North Pole, parachute out and the aircraft will land, furnish lunch, and pick you up, all for a price .... and, as for the South Pole, it becomes equally the case when there are permanent, year-round bases in the Antarctic, and cruise ships come and go. These are the circumstances of life today.

Mount Everest loses its appeal except as a personal challenge when an eighty-year-old and a thirteen-year-old make the climb, and a double-amputee is literally carried to the top. And, at last count, about four thousand have successfully completed the climb, some of them multiple times.

My legs are past the stage where they are eager for personal challenge, so, perhaps, that is why I find life rather tedious and why I am so easily bored. Also, I have entered the stage where mental challenges are more appropriate.

Yes, I have read a number of books/accounts of North Polar expeditions and attempts to find a Northwest Passage in particular, although expeditions to reach the South Pole often have been as desperate. That is why I was, shall I say, "desperately" interested and attracted to them as a boy and a young man.

Thank you, Anita, for your visit and your comment. Enjoy your journey to Svalbard .... yes, see you, and you stay young, beautiful and healthy !!

ANITA said...

Hello!
Thank you for nice greeting on my blog
About the sunglasses..They are Ray Ban..so I was thinking Vip people!!

Hahahha ..no just kidding..Here around everyone wear shades.no matter weather or pretty or ugly
Nice to hear you are doing fine.I like that.

Greetings Anita

Fram Actual said...

I will be completely fine when I have resolved my residency situation, Anita. I continue to search for the "sunny side of the street."

I wore "shades" day and night when I was in high school and college, Anita, but at some point I realized how often I was losing them and having to replace them and how much money that was costing me .... so, essentially, I stopped replacing them -- which means I stopped wearing them for a few years. Since that time, I have returned to wearing them on sunny days and my favorites are designed for use in the desert and have USMC on the upper corner of the left lens.

Thank you, for your visit and your comment, Anita. I really do enjoy your company ....

ANITA said...

Hello Fram
Always nice to hear from you and you are such a nice guy..I have said i t before..you know how to put your words and make people happyYou should write a book..sincerly I mean it
I am still at work and writing from.my cellphone.Thanx alot for kind greetings on.my blog

Thinkin g about you
😊😊😊

A Cuban In London said...

Wish you a good break from blogging. I have always had a soft spot for expeditions leaders. They dare to go where no one else did or wanted to. Great post.

Greetings from London.

Liplatus said...

It has not been easy to live or travel a hundred years ago.
Courage has been needed.

I've probably watched a document on TV just for this tour.
It is interesting to know the history of earlier times.

Fram Actual said...

If you want to meet a genuinely "nice guy," Anita, you should meet my son. He is polite and well-mannered beyond belief, and has more friends than anyone I know. Beside that, he has movie-star looks. Right now, though, he is deeply in love and probably will stay that way.

I have written three novels, and a well-known novelist sent one to his agent. She read it and gave me some recommendations, but I never have followed up on them. I also have ghost written a few things and published short stories. My basic problem is that I have a tendency to begin projects, but not the patience to complete them. Someday, maybe, when my life becomes calmer.

Thank you, for urging me onward, Anita. Someday, maybe ....

Fram Actual said...

My "break from blogging" is not a traditional one in which I stay away for an extended, often announced, period of time. In my case, I have very mixed feelings about the blogs and about my own life and what I am doing with it, so, until I "get my act together," I will not post very often -- probably once or twice a month.

The leader of an expedition usually gets most (if not all) of the credit -- or, the blame, if things go wrong. It is those who go with him who make me most curious. There are about two hundred unrecovered bodies on Mount Everest, for instance, and as a once-upon-a-time journalist, I would like to have interviewed those individuals before they set out for the "top of the world."

Thank you, CiL .... it is nice to see you here again.

Fram Actual said...

In addition to winter camping in tents and ice-huts on land and on frozen lakes, Liplatus, I used to run on frozen lakes at night. The lakes and the ice, at times, talk to anyone who ventures out on them -- often rather loudly. There are moments when it would seem the ice is about to open up and swallow anyone who is upon it. Sometimes, a cracking, rumbling sound will begin a long distance away and move quickly toward you and pass beneath you and continue on until it can no longer be heard.

Many lessons for today and tomorrow can be learned by studying the past. If I could "bend time," I would choose to witness the past rather than the future: That is how much it fascinates me.

Thank you, Liplatus, for your visit here and your comment for me.

Something special ....