Total days en route

32


Distance covered:

580 km

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Fridtjof Nansen

1861 - 1930

Fridtjof Nansen was born on October 10th 1861 in Oslo, Norway. He had a varied life and carrier. He was a politician and received the Nobel price for peace. But most off all he saw himself as a world explorer and a scientist.

Fridtjof Nansen

In 1888, at the age of 26, he was leading a six-person expedition with the goal to cross the Greenland ice cap on skies. This expedition wasn’t without danger or problems. The expedition left from Iceland in boats. They got stuck in icy water on the eastside off the coast of Greenland and drifted southward. They finally reached land at 61°38' N. From there they travelled north. On the icecap the expedition went west. The party of six survived temperatures of -45° C, climbed to 9,000 feet above sea level, mastered dangerous ice and experienced exhaustion. During this journey Nansen and his men closely registered the meteorological conditions, and collected other scientific data. After a though journey they reached the west coast on September 29. However, the last boat had already left so they found themselves stuck on the ice cap until May 1889.

The six expedition members went back to Norway where they received an enthusiastic welcome. But Nansen didn’t want to rest yet. Earlier observations persuaded him that there was a strong east-west stream from Siberia to the North pole and from the North pole south to Greenland.

Fridtjof Nansen

Determined to prove that this theory was correct, Nansen proposed to float with the ice in a special ship and pass the North pole, if possible. He called the boat “Fram”, which means “forward” in Norwegian. Despite disbelieve from foreign countries, the project was financed by the Norwegian government, the king, and private persons. The expedition left Norway on June 24th 1893. On September 22nd 1893 the ship got stuck in the ice in front off the Siberian coast at 78°50' N en 133°37' E. The ship slowly drifted with the ice in a northwest direction. However, the “Fram” drifted not as close by the North pole as Nansen hoped. Together with Johansen, one of his strongest and most loyal men, he decided to try to reach the North pole. This attempt wasn’t a success. The conditions were much worse than expected. During the trip they had to cross big heaps with ice and open water. Finally, on 86°14' N, they decided to turn back. Nansen and Johansen didn’t reach the North pole, but they were the first to come this close.

On August 1897, an expedition ship brought them to the Norwegian harbour Vardř. They didn’t know that “Fram” got loose from the ice around Spitsbergen on that exact same day. For the first time in three years, the ship sailed south. Nansen was right. The ship followed the stream that Nansen thought was there. Besides that they had collected valuable data about sea, wind and temperature conditions. For oceanography, Nansen’s journey was extremely important. For Nansen this was the turning point in his carrier. From this moment on he focused on oceanographic research.

Fridtjof Nansen