Sunday, December 25, 2011

Amundsen Centennial Dec. 14, 2011

So this post is a little overdue but better late than never.

One hundred years ago, two teams raced to be the first people to reach the South Geographic Pole so 2 weeks ago we had a big pow wow here in celebration of Amundsen being the first expedition to arrive and the only of the two to survive to tell the tail.
People gathering in preparation for the Prime Minister Speech

The Prime Minister of Norway and a contingent of news people were here for 4 days and barely got out on the last flight on Thursday - all other flights that day were canceled (frankly, the plane came for them when they would have probably canceled for the regular crew).  So we had a rather busy week the 11th thru the 15th with the Prime Minister addressing station staff on the 12th, a photo-op on the 13th (the big group at the Pole sign) and the Prime Minister's recorded speech at the Ceremonial Pole marker on the 4PM the 14th local time.  He also broadcast a speech 4AM local time live to his constituency back in Norway.  Additionally, during the speech he unveiled an ice sculpture but of Amundsen which is still in pretty good shape 2 weeks later - at few days ago.

Asle T. Johansen joins me in a photo at Amundsen's sculpture
A record number of tourists spending many 10's of thousands of dollars to a company to come and camp outside the station for a week.  And several expeditions of skiers also took the opportunity attempt the actual journey following in Amundsen's foot/ski steps.  The Antarctic Treaty disallowed them to use sled dogs so they had to pull their own gear and ended up taking longer than he did.  They were then faced with the dilemma of letting the plane come pick them up and bring them in for the ceremony or stay on the track and complete the journey late.  Some chose to come on in.  One of them, a rather famous Norwegian skier Asle T. Johansen, joined me for a photo next to the ice sculpture.  I had forgotten my camera on the way out to the speech so I have been a the mercy for others for photos.  After coming in, I found folks still outside milling around and so I took the camera back out.  Turned out they were all Norwegians by they sound of them speaking.  I found a fellow taking pictures of the sculpture and pole marker and offered to take his picture with his camera and he appreciated that.  So I had him return the favor for me and on the second shot, I took off my goggles, noted motion to my left and found I had company for the picture.  Way cool, huh?

Oh, and there will be a smaller celebration for Scott's Centennial, Jan. 12th, 2012.

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